A law enforcement official involved in the investigation said the officers would wear their Georgia Department of Corrections uniforms and badges during the drug trafficking operations to avoid law enforcement scrutiny.
The guards allegedly believed an undercover FBI agent was actually a drug dealer working with the Mexican cartel. In exchange for showing up in uniform and helping to traffic the drugs, authorities allege the guards were compensated thousands of dollars.
Most of the guards are considered line guards that had direct interaction with inmates, but five were part of an elite tactical unit that recovers contraband in prisons, according to the law enforcement official.
The investigation is part of a larger public corruption investigation into Georgia Correctional Facilities, including the smuggling of contraband cellphones into jails.