Prison guards sensed there was some kind of rummy do going on. Jailbirds had mysteriously started sticking playing cards in cell door observation windows.
Poker-faced inmates at HMP Hewell, told officers it was to stop lights on the landing disturbing their sleep at night. And it took several months before the real game was finally up.
There had certainly been dealing involved – but in drugs not cards. An ace meant the dealer in the cell had cannabis for sale, with a king for cocaine, a jack for heroin and a joker for zombie drug spice.
The back of a card meant ‘out of stock’.
An insider at the multiple security nick near Redditch, Worcs, said: “Eventually a security investigation revealed what was going on. Then there were a series of raids. Guards with sniffer dogs began searching cells showing cards. It turned out there were some big players behind what was going on.”
Drugs smuggled into jail for sale cost eight to 10 times as much as on the outside. Prisoners ordering drugs arranged for someone on the outside to put money into an account run by a contact of the dealer.
Hewell has nearly 900 category B, C or D male inmates. Prisoners are subject to random mandatory drug tests. The insider added that the drugs racket was thought to be partly inspired by Play Your Cards Right – the 1980s hit ITV quiz hosted by Bruce Forsyth.