PHOENIX – Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio ordered his officers to lock down and search the Fourth Avenue Jail Friday morning in an effort to thwart any potential gang-related problems.
Arpaio said the shakedown was done in an effort to protect officers and inmates at the downtown Phoenix jail.
"Gangs and gang violence are a constant concern for law enforcement," Arpaio said in a news release. "But in the jails additional prevention must be undertaken to stop gang violence directed at law enforcement."
Arpaio said the large-scale search stemmed from the case involving Leonard Moreno, who is accused of killing MCSO detention officer Jorge Vargas. The sheriff said when the 15-year-old was booked into jail on another charge, he talked about "shanks" and assaulting other inmates.
Dozens of officers, posse members and K-9s searched the inmates' beds and cells for weapons, shanks and any other contraband throughout the day.
"There are a number of gang-related issues in our jails and on the streets that we need to take action on and we are starting today with this jail shakedown," Arpaio said.
Approximately 1,800 inmates currently are housed at the maximum security facility. There are 2,064 beds in the jail's 1,126 cells.