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D.C. jail guard accused of smuggling narcotics, knives into facility

Prosecutors say Johnson Ayuk, 31, took bribes in exchange for contraband

The D.C. jail. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
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A correctional officer at the D.C. jail was arrested Thursday and accused of smuggling narcotics, knives and other banned items into the facility in return for cash bribes.

Johnson Ayuk, 31, is charged with bribery and providing or possessing contraband in prison. He appeared in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Thursday afternoon, where he was released on high-intensity supervision before his preliminary hearing set for March 10.

The D.C. Department of Corrections said the arrest followed an investigation in collaboration with the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI. “The D.C. Department of Corrections is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for the men and women in our custody and care,” said Keena Blackmon, public information officer for the Department of Corrections, in a statement.

Ayuk’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

The allegations came almost four months after the U.S. Marshals Service published a letter condemning conditions at the D.C. jail, which included Corrections staff denying detainees food and water as a form of punishment. The Marshals Service assisted with the investigation, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Ayuk, from Bowie, Md., has been a correctional officer at the D.C. jail since April 2021. Prosecutors allege that as early as October of that year, he began accepting payments from a detainee’s girlfriend and then bringing contraband into the facility by concealing items under compression shorts. The items, attorneys said in the criminal complaint, were for distribution among a group of incarcerated people.

In January, Department of Corrections officers found multiple cellphones, a pocketknife and narcotics in a light fixture at the Central Detention Facility. Investigators ultimately connected that stash to Ayuk, according to the court papers.

Peter Hermann contributed to this report.