Death Row Wireless Crime Spree Probed

One of those cell phones and chargers was found hidden in the ceiling of the showers -- a common area in the death row building in the Polunsky Unit, said Lyons.

Forty-four of the facilities have since been taken off lockdown, according to Lyons, while the remaining 77 are still being searched.

Before this most recent shakedown, the Texas prison system already had 700 pending cases involving smuggled cell phones and BlackBerry devices, according to Moriarty.

Money for Tabler's phone is alleged to have come from his mother, 60-year-old Lorriane Tabler, who was arrested last week under a state statute that prohibits the introduction of contraband such as a cell phone into a prison facility.

Authorities said the source of funds for hundreds of other phones found in the prisons is unclear.

ABC News was unable to contact Lorriane Tabler for comment.

European Women Befriend the Condemned spoke with several individuals involved in anti-death penalty organizations in Europe who said that they have fostered relationships with men on death row and frequently sent them money.

Myriam Stubbe, a member of the Coalition for Truth and Justice based in Belgium, said she is aware of inmates having cell phones behind bars that were financed by foreign women.

"I know people who have been banned from visits [to Texas prisons] because they sent money for cell phones," said Stubbe, who declined to name the women to protect their privacy.

Activists like Stubbe range in age and socioeconomic status and the majority of them are married, middle-aged women. While there are male activists in the groups, the women are the ones who most frequently write to inmates, while the men help with fundraising.

There are a handful of organizations for anti-death penalty advocates overseas; in Germany alone there are about 300 members who are registered as part of the movement.

To recruit new members, advocates travel across Europe visiting small towns and holding demonstrations and vigils for those awaiting execution in hope of attracting more supporters.

In addition to recruitment and fundraising, many members say they work hard to save enough money to afford a trip to the U.S. to meet inmates in person.

Stubbe said she will go ahead with a upcoming trip to Texas despite the possibility that visitation rights will still be suspended due to the lockdown.

Some inmates take advantage of the women who help them, Stubbe said, and she knows that not all of the money donated is put toward their so-called "defense funds."

"We all know some inmates that use people," said Stubbe. "It's not just because they are being executed that we must swallow everything they say."

According to Stubbe, money is wired to inmates through JPay, a Web site that allows users to send money to prisoners' accounts so long as they provide the inmate's name and ID number.

Texas' Moriarty confirmed that he was aware of JPay and considers it to be a "legitimate" way to provide financial aid to prisoners.

Other women who spoke to said that in addition to JPay, money orders sent to attorneys acting on behalf of prisoners is another common way to provide financial aid to inmates.

Not all of the women corresponding with death row inmates are aware or even interested in where their donations actually go.

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