Officers comb 4th Ave jail for contraband following threat - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Officers comb 4th Ave jail for contraband following threat

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PHOENIX -

Today Sheriff Joe Arpaio put the 4th Avenue Jail on lockdown while officers searched all 1,000 cells. This was because the 15-year-old suspected of murdering a detention officer made gang-related threats.

Officers call 15-year-old Leonard Moreno a "gang member wanna-be."

They're concerned about what he might try to do on the inside of that jail. He is in a maximum security cell by himself.

Arpaio believes this is a reminder of the gang activity taking place inside cells.

"Keep your hands on your head when they tell you to get up!" yelled officers to the inmates.

"We'll take some action, the main thing now is get [contraband] out of the system," said Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The sheriff ordered this shakedown in response to 15-year-old murder suspect Leonard Moreno. He's accused of killing detention officer Jorge Vargas. Once in custody, officers say the teen made comments about his intention to stab other inmates.

"He did make some threats against other inmates when he was booked into the jail on another charge and he showed a gang sign to a visitor," said Arpaio.

During their raid, officers did find shanks.

"This probably came from some metal equipment that we have, probably from medical braces that they cut off or whatever, and these are pretty serious weapons. You could wipe somebody out with these."

They also found drug paraphernalia, homemade nooses and rosaries, pills snuck in by visitors, and alcohol fermented from juice, bread and citrus.

It might not make much sense to take drawings that are very skillfully made, but it turns out artwork often symbolizes gang activity. Drawings are turned over to the gang task force and investigated.

"I think the least we can do is try to seize any contraband and try to defend our officers plus our inmates. We don't want anything to happen to our inmates."

Inmates can't keep jewelry because it's made from jail gear and equipment.

That alcohol concoction is called hooch. One inmate was taken to the hospital with a .28 blood alcohol level from drinking it.

Sheriff Arpaio says this is only phase one of gang suppression, and phase two will take place on the streets.

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