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2 inmates found dead at Louisiana’s maximum-security prison

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Two inmates have been found dead at Louisiana’s maximum-security prison, prompting a shakedown at the complex and a search for smuggled drugs, authorities said.

Spokeswoman Natalie Laborde at the state Department of Corrections said inmate John Hatfield, 31, was found dead at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola at about 6:45 p.m. Wednesday. She said 42-year-old inmate Kenneth LaCoste was found dead a little more than two hours later, minutes after 9 p.m.

Both men were in the same section section and it appears their deaths may be drug-related, Laborde said. She added that autopsies are still pending.

Laborde said staff members immediately searched the unit for contraband and found small amounts of synthetic marijuana and amphetamines, a cell phone and a small pocket knife. Another search Thursday, involving 100 correctional officers and multiple K-9 teams uncovered two ice pick weapons, seven additional cell phones and four cell phone chargers.

Hatfield was serving a life sentence for second-degree murder. He was convicted in March 2016 in Beauregard Parish.

LaCoste was serving 10 years for a 2013 conviction in Orleans Parish of habitual attempted distribution of cocaine. He was scheduled for release in April 2022.

Laborde emphasized that the prison is secure. She added that the investigation of the deaths is ongoing.