Another week, another busted Border Patrol agent, another crooked cop going to the pen, a prosecutor gone bad headed to the same place -- just the usual in the drug war-related law enforcement corruption. But also this week, a case from New York City that, while not a classic case of financial corruption, demonstrates the moral rot at the heart of drug law enforcement. Let's get to it:
In Laredo, Texas, the May 10 indictment of Senior Border Patrol Agent Juan Alfredo Alvarez, 35, and his brother Jose on bribery and drug conspiracy charges has resulted in guilty pleas from both, the US Attorneys Office in Houston announced. The Alvarez brothers were accused of soliciting and receiving a $1.5 million bribe for turning a blind eye to truckloads of marijuana moving through checkpoints near Hebronville, Texas, where Officer Alvarez was the senior agent and drug dog handler. The Alvarez brothers pleaded guilty May 12 and now await sentencing.
In Amarillo, Texas, former "tough on drugs" District Attorney Rich Roach, 55, was sentenced Wednesday to five years in federal prison after being arrested at the courthouse in November on methamphetamine and weapons charges. Prosecutors dropped cocaine and meth possession charges in return for a guilty plea on a charge of unlawful drug possession by a drug addict. But saying that federal sentencing guidelines were inadequate for the betrayal of public trust Roach committed, US District Judge Mary Lou Robinson added 14 months to the statutory maximum sentence.
In Buffalo, New York, former Buffalo narcotics detective Paul Skinner is going to federal prison for seven years after being found guilty of violating the civil rights of drug suspects by filing false reports, planting evidence, and ripping off the people he was supposed to be investigating. During Skinner's trial, numerous witnessed testified to widespread corruption in the Buffalo Police narcotics squad, and Skinner's attorney, Paul Brown, told local TV news stations that Skinner's relatively light sentence may have been because the judge recognized there was a culture of corruption in the unit where Skinner worked. Two weeks ago, another member of the Buffalo narcotics squad, Sylvestre Acosta, was sentenced to 45 years in the same scandal.
In New York City, a black undercover narc is suing some of his NYPD coworkers for treating him the way they treat "civilian" drug offenders. According to the New York Post, Officer Carlton Foster has filed a $15 million lawsuit against three police officers and the supervisor of the Queens narcotics bureau. According to the lawsuit, Foster was working undercover in May 2004 when the police back-up team assigned to make the arrests moved in. The backup team allegedly cuffed and beat Foster, who was treated for a concussion and missed two weeks of work because of his injuries. When Foster complained in September that the officers involved had not been disciplined, he was transferred out of the unit, the lawsuit alleges. The suit also alleges the attack was racially motivated -- all four of the officers who assaulted Foster were white.