Miami-Dade County health inspectors are investigating reports by employees of rats "running rampant" at the county jail, officials said.
Civilian administrator Greg Rollins wrote a letter March 7 to the county health department complaining that "rats can be seen running rampant" throughout the aging building.
"It is so bad that inmates are being extorted like some type of mafia cartel by the rats," he wrote. "Inmates are forced to throw food out of their cells along the walls in order for the rats not to come into the cells to raid and rampage."
Rollins' letter alleges that in one incident, a rat larger than a 20-ounce soda bottle fell from the ceiling in an employee dining area.
Corrections Department Director Tim Ryan said he doesn't believe the infestation is as bad as the letter makes it out to be. The last time pest control workers visited the jail, they found four rodents, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.
"It is not a systemic issue," Ryan said. "We're paying a great deal of attention to it."
The day after the letter was sent, an inspector found roaches living in a food tray area of the jail's kitchen and standing water outside near the garbage zone, the newspaper said. The inspector also found openings around pipes in walls that could be access points for rats.
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