The FBI is arresting 18 former and current LA county sheriff's deputies today following a 2-year investigation into abuse and corruption at Los Angeles County jails, NBC News reports. According to a criminal complaint and four grand jury indictments, officers beat and held inmates without justification, and conspired to stop the FBI's probe by detaining and grilling a federal mole operating in the prison system. The mole, Anthony Brown, allegedly got in hot water when deputies found he had a cell phone for documenting prison abuse.
Brown told the Los Angeles Times that sheriff's officials had relocated him, changed his name a few times, and interrogated him about whether he would testify in the FBI probe. "I didn't know it then, but they were hiding me from the feds," said Brown, who is serving a 423-years-to-life sentence for armed robbery. A US attorney in California said that "these incidents did not take place in a vacuum—in fact, they demonstrated behavior that had become institutionalized. ... Some members of the Sheriff’s Department considered themselves to be above the law."