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Inmates assigned to a work farm because of their good behavior at other prisons took control of two barracks for four hours early Sunday after guards asked to search one of the prisoners for drugs.

The instigators of the siege at the Wrightsville Unit are to be sent to tougher prisons, losing privileges that include living in dormitories where they could keep private property under lock-and-key. They could also face criminal charges, prison spokeswoman Dina Tyler said.

Fifteen people were determined to be the instigators, seizing control of the two 50-bed barracks.

The 15 are to be transferred to the maximum-security units, Ms. Tyler said.

The incident began when guards received a tip shortly before midnight Saturday that an inmate had contraband, possibly drugs. Two guards went to investigate, and one was jumped by the inmate.

When one of the officers tried to use pepper spray, other inmates jumped in. The officers escaped, apparently without serious injury.

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