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Sex and drug arrest triggers deadly Florida prison gunfight

A federal agent and a guard killed


Bureau of Prisons
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

(CNN) -- A deadly gunbattle broke out at a federal prison Wednesday when a corrections officer opened fire as federal agents tried to arrest him and other guards on charges they traded drugs for sex, officials in Tallahassee, Florida, said.

A federal agent and the gunman were killed in the ensuing shootout, and a Bureau of Prisons official was wounded.

A grand jury on Tuesday indicted six guards at Federal Correctional Institution Tallahassee on charges including exchanging contraband and money for sex with female inmates, and attempting to keep inmates silent through bribes and intimidation. A copy of the indictment was obtained by CNN. (Indictment tells of sex, favors and power)

As federal agents were serving arrest warrants on the six, guard Ralph Hill began shooting, authorities said.

Federal agents returned fire, killing Hill, according to Jeff Westcott, spokesman for the FBI's Jacksonville office. An agent with the Office of Inspector General died, he said. (Watch what may have prompted the gunfight -- 1:48)

In the indictment, the six guards were identified as Hill, Alfred Barnes, Gregory Dixon, Vincent Johnson, Alan Moore and E. Lavon Spence.

All of the indicted guards were at the facility at the time of the shooting, about 7:45 a.m., authorities said.

The other five guards were arrested without incident in other areas of the facility, the FBI said. They pleaded not guilty to the charges Wednesday during a brief arraignment in federal court in Tallahassee, said Allen Sprowls, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Tallahassee. They will make a second appearance at a detention hearing Thursday, where a federal magistrate will hear arguments on whether they should receive bond.

The correctional institution is described by the Bureau of Prisons as a low-security facility housing female inmates, with an adjacent detention center housing administrative security-level male inmates. (See facility, map)

The indictment alleges that during the past three years, "defendants would and did bring in contraband to FCI Tallahassee to sell and to use as payment in exchange for sexual contact" with the inmates. The contraband could have included drugs, alcohol and money, the indictment said.

The guards also received money from inmates, their family members and their associates in exchange for contraband, the indictment said. The contraband allegedly was hidden in various locations within the facility accessible to inmates.

According to the indictment, at least one federal agent went undercover at the prison. The indictment states that, at Barnes' urging, the undercover agent mailed a $600 money order to purchase contraband.

Barnes allegedly called the undercover agent's cell phone to discuss delivery of the contraband, and Johnson passed on a message to an inmate on Barnes' behalf, the indictment charges.

Drugs were also used to bribe inmates to keep silent about what was going on, and guards threatened to ship inmates to other facilities farther from their families, the court document said.

The guards allegedly monitored inmates' phone calls "for the purpose of intimidating and identifying inmates who were disclosing criminal conduct to other persons," the indictment said. In addition, some guards showed inmates the Bureau of Prisons' computer system to demonstrate how easily inmates could be tracked within the federal prison system.

Under the scheme, the six defendants switched duty assignments to facilitate the illegal contacts with inmates. Other inmates were allegedly used as "lookouts."

The area where the shooting took place was not accessible to inmates, authorities said. The facility was placed on lockdown after the incident.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann and Terry Frieden contributed to this report.

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