TAMPA - Three jail inmates and another man were arrested Wednesday after sheriff's deputies uncovered a plot to smuggle guns into the jail and escape, officials said.
Ernesto Ibarra, 21, of 106 Tropical Bay in Wimauma, was arrested Wednesday morning as he attempted to buy guns from an undercover sheriff's deputy, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
The sheriff's intelligence unit had been tipped to the plan and conducted a sting operation, deputies said.
Ibarra was supposed to buy the four weapons and pass them along to a Falkenburg Road Jail inmate who worked outside at the facility, deputies said. The inmate was then supposed to smuggle them inside to Ibarra's brother and two other men, deputies said.
Ibarra's brother, 25-year-old Edi Ibarra, was in jail awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges. Edi Ibarra is accused of killing his girlfriend in 2001 in Wimauma.
The other two inmates are 46-year-old Walter Ruiz and 23-year-old Jason Porter, deputies said. Ruiz was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for acting as a hired hit man in the 1995 murder of a Drew Park grocer, but he had been transferred to the jail from state prison while awaiting a hearing, deputies said. Porter was recently sentenced to 35 years in prison for armed robbery and was waiting to be transferred to state prison.
The three inmates and Ernesto Ibarra were charged Wednesday with conspiring to commit an escape from a detention facility and conspiracy to introduce contraband into a detention facility. The three inmates remained at the Falkenburg Road Jail without bail Wednesday. Ernesto Ibarra was being questioned and processed and was expected to be taken to Orient Road Jail Wednesday.