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Mexico Drug War Update

by Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year smuggling drugs into the United States, profiting enormously from the prohibitionist drug policies of the US government. Since Mexican president Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and called the armed forces into the fight against the so-called cartels, prohibition-related violence has killed around 40,000 people, including more than 15,000 last year. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest or killing of dozens of high-profile drug traffickers have failed to stem the flow of drugs -- or the violence -- whatsoever. The Merida initiative, which provides $1.4 billion over three years for the US to assist the Mexican government with training, equipment and intelligence, has so far failed to make a difference. Here are a few of the latest developments in Mexico's drug war:

Thursday, September 15

In Philadelphia, authorities announced the dismantling of a drug trafficking network with ties to the Sinaloa Cartel. In total, five people were arrested, three of them in Pennsylvania and two in Texas. Ten kilos of cocaine, cash and weapons were also confiscated.

In Matamoros, fire fights and blockades were reported in several parts of the city, effectively shutting the city down. Residents posted pictures of hijacked buses parked across streets and city officials confirmed that incidents occurred on the highway to Reynosa. It is unclear whether any fatalities occurred during the incidents.

Wednesday, September 16

In Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, a car bomb exploded during Mexican Independence Day celebrations. No injuries were reported.

In Querandaro, Michoacan, Independence Day celebrations were canceled after a group of 40 heavily armed gunmen arrived in the town’s main square and ordered the crowd to disperse or be attacked, causing people to flee in panic or hide inside government buildings. No injuries were reported.

Saturday, September 17

In Huamuxtitlan, Guerrero, the body of a missing federal congressman and his driver were found in a river. PRI congressman Moises Villanueva had been missing since September 4th, when the two men disappeared after leaving a party held by a fellow party member. Mexican media reported that both men had been shot and appear to have been dead for some time.

In the Monterrey suburb of Santa Catarina, authorities announced that 44 police officers have been taken into custody on suspicion of working as lookouts for and protecting the Zetas. At least 69 others are still under investigation.

Sunday, September 18

In Mexico City, a high-ranking Sinaloa Cartel leader was arrested. Jose Carlos Moreno Flores is thought to have been the head of the Sinaloa Cartel in Chilapancingo, Guerrero, and is known to have had ties to drug traffickers in Guatemala and Costa Rica. He is also thought to have played a key part in turf wars fought over Chilpancingo between the Sinaloa Cartel and rival groups.

Monday, September 19

In Veracruz, 32 prison inmates escaped from three facilities in simultaneous jail breaks. 14 of the inmates have already been recaptured and the Mexican military has deployed to search for the remaining 18. All 17 prisons in Veracruz are being checked to ascertain whether any other prisoners are missing.

Tuesday, September 20

In Michoacan, the army captured a high-ranking member of the Knights Templar Organization. Saul Solis Solis, 49, is a former police chief and at one time was a congressional candidate for the Green Party, finishing fourth in the 2009 congressional race for his home district. He is also suspected of being heavily involved in narcotics cultivation and meth production, as well as in multiple attacks on federal forces, including a May 2007 attack that killed an officer and four soldiers.

In Veracruz, the bodies of 35 people were dumped on a busy street near a shopping center by a group of heavily armed gunmen who pointed weapons at passing motorists. According to Mexican media sources, most of the gunmen were identified as having criminal records and links to organized crime groups. A banner left with the bodies claimed that the dead were Zetas. Some of the victims had their heads covered with black plastic bags and appeared to have been tortured. One of the bodies has been identified as a police officer who went missing two weeks ago.

In Ciudad Juarez, at least eight people were murdered in several incidents across the city. In one incident, three teenagers were walking along a street when they were intercepted by a group of gunmen, who killed two and severely wounded the third. In another incident, a 32-year old mother of 8 was shot dead outside her home.

[Editor's Note: We can no longer accurately enumerate the number of deaths in the Mexican drug wars this year. The Mexico City newspaper El Universal had been running a tally on which we relied, but it stopped. Our estimate for this year's death toll is just that -- an estimate.]

Total Body Count for 2007 (approx.): 4,300

Total Body Count for 2008 (approx.): 5,400

Total Body Count for 2009 (approx.): 9,600

Total Body Count for 2010 (official): 15,273

Total Body Count for 2011: (approx.): 7,200

Mexico

Mexico

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

An Oklahoma police chief gets caught with meth and weed, a New Mexico cop goes to prison for blowing up an FBI investigation, and a Colorado deputy is being looked at for some missing evidence money. Let's get to it:

In Salpulpa, Oklahoma, the Valley Brook police chief was arraigned on September 14 on drug trafficking and possession charges. Chief Melvin Fisher Jr., 47, had been arrested on Labor Day after being pulled over in a "routine traffic stop" by the Oklahoma State Patrol. He is accused of possessing 20 grams of methamphetamine, an unknown quantity of marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. He is charged with drug trafficking, two charges of unlawful possession of a controlled drug with intent to distribute and one charge of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. The chief is out on $31,000 bail and has asked for a temporary leave of absence. He is set for a preliminary hearing on October 5.

In Albuquerque, a former Albuquerque police officer was sentenced Tuesday to six months and a day in jail and six months on supervised release after being convicted of tipping off a friend who was the target of an ongoing federal narcotics and stolen merchandise investigation. Brad Ahrenfield, 46, leaked details of an FBI scheme to bust one of his friend's employees for small-time drug dealing, then get the employee to flip on the friend, forcing the investigation to come to an end.

In Pueblo, Colorado, the county's sheriff's deputy in charge of the evidence room has resigned in the midst of an investigation into missing cash. Tara Adame resigned earlier this month and is a "person of interest" in the investigation, according to Sheriff Kirk Taylor. "A substantial amount of cash" is missing from the evidence room, although an exact total hasn't been released.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A major pain pill bust takes down a trio of TSA agents and a pair of cops, adirty Chicago cop goes to prison, a crooked small-town New York officer faces the same fate, a Florida cop facing trial for peddling meth has gone on the lam, and four suburban Chicago cops are being sued. Let's get to it:

In Stamford, Connecticut, three Transportation Security Administration officers and two police officers were arrested Tuesday in a series of DEA-led busts that stretched from Stamford to West Palm Beach, Florida. Altogether, "Operation Blue Coast" rolled up 20 people for participating in a ring that sent tens of thousands of oxycodone tablets from the Sunshine State to the northeast. It all unraveled after an April bust of a courier in Stamford who told the DEA he was regularly shuttling thousands of pills at a time, sometimes driving, sometimes flying out of Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach. The TSA officers arrested included Christopher Allen, 45, and John Best, 30, TSA who were based at the Palm Beach International Airport; and Brigitte Jones, 48, a based at Westchester County Airport in New York. They are accused of taking at least $20,000 in payments from the courier to allow him to pass unmolested. Also going down in the busts was Florida State Trooper Justin Kolves, 28, who took payments to allow free passage on Central Florida highways, and Michael Brady, 36, a Westchester County police officer, who allegedly took cash to allow drug profits through the airport without detection. All 20 of those arrested on oxycodone trafficking, conspiracy, and associated charges face up to 20 years in prison.

In Chicago, a former Chicago police officer was sentenced September 7 to 12 years in prison for being part of a group of cops in the department's elite Special Operations Section who carried out armed robberies, home invasions, and other crimes across the city. Jerome Finnigan, 48, has already served four years in prison, so he should be a free man again in six or seven years. Finnigan was considered the ringleader in a group of officers who targeted mostly drug dealers for robberies to seize drugs and cash, which the cops then pocketed. The SOS scandal, as it is known in Chicago, has already cost the city more than $2 million in settlements of civil rights lawsuits from people victimized by the rogue cops, and many cases are still pending. Seven other SOS members have already pleaded guilty to state charges, but Finnigan and three others were indicted on federal charges in April. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder another officer prepared to testify against him and to tax charges related to the money he stole.

In Poughkeepsie, New York, a former Poughkeepsie police officer pleaded guilty last Friday to providing information about drug investigations to drug dealers in exchange for cocaine for his personal use. David Palazzolo, 47, a 20-year-veteran, pleaded guilty to three felony counts and is looking at between three and 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in December. Palazzolo admitted using the town police computer system on at least four occasions  to keep a drug dealer apprised of investigations and to warn him about the times and locations of drug surveillance operations carried out by town narcotics officers. He is free on $100,000 bail pending sentencing.

In Joliet, Illinois, four Joliet police officers were named as defendants in a civil rights lawsuit filed by a local man who alleges they falsely arrested and imprisoned him in a drug arrest last year. Patrick Moore's lawsuit claims that Officer Tom Banas made a crack cocaine deal with another man whom Moore accompanied. The videotaped drug deal went down inside a vehicle, while Moore remained standing outside the car, but officers arrested and charged him with delivering crack cocaine anyway, and he spent five months in jail awaiting trial before prosecutors dropped the charges. In addition to Officer Banas, the suit names Sgt. Patrick Cardwell, and Officers Alan Vertin and John Wilson, and alleges they falsified written police reports to bolster their false account of the arrest and hide their misconduct. The suit asks for $5 million in compensation.

In Miami, a Boynton Beach police officer has gone on the lam days before he was scheduled to go on trial for selling more than 500 grams of methamphetamine. Officer David Brito boarded a flight from Miami to Brazil on August 24, the same day he removed his ankle monitor and broke his 11:00pm curfew. Britto was Boynton Beach's "Officer of the Year" in 2010, but faced life in prison if convicted on the meth charges. He was scheduled to go to trial this week.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

We've got two weeks worth of law enforcement bad apples this week. The barrel is getting pretty full of them. Let's get to it:

In Brownsville, Texas, a former Cameron County District Attorney's Office investigator was indicted August 25 on a variety of drug trafficking-related charges. Former investigator Jaime Munivez, 47, is accused of partnering with an already indicted alleged cocaine trafficker on his deals, helping him search for a missing truck loaded with drug money, and providing fraudulent forfeiture documents for another trafficker. Munivez faces one count of conspiracy to possess more than five kilograms of cocaine, one count of conspiracy to extort, and two counts of aiding and abetting extortion. He was trying to make $75,000 bail at last report. He's looking at at least 10 years on the cocaine conspiracy count.

In Alexandria, Louisiana, a Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office narcotics field supervisor was arrested August 25 on charges related to "improper activities with three female offenders." Lt. Michael Lacour, 33, is charged with three counts of malfeasance in office. Although officials were mum on the particulars, the sheriff's office did say that it got a complaint from one of the women and that his arrest stemmed from his off-duty activities. Lacour has been suspended with  pay and is out on a $3,000 bond. 

In Greenup, Kentucky, a Greenup County jail guard was arrested August 29 for allegedly peddling Oxycontin to prisoners while on duty. Guard Causetta Cox-Tackett, 33, is charged with trafficking a controlled substance and promoting contraband. She went down after an internal investigation by the Greenup County Detention Center and the Greenup County Sheriff's Office. She is currently residing at her place of employment.

In New Port Richey, Florida, a former Pasco County sheriff's deputy was arrested August 30 after being caught with marijuana, prescription pills, and drug paraphernalia in his patrol car. Marshall DeBerry is accused of not turning in drugs and paraphernalia in at least 10 cases. Not all the missing drugs have been found, and DeBerry told investigators some may have "fallen out" of his patrol car. He is charged with tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. He went down after investigators got a tip about drugs in his patrol car. DeBerry had previously risen to the rank of corporal, but had been demoted to sheriff's deputy in 2008 after warning an informant of an impending raid. He is out on a $5,000 bond pending trial.

In Saluda, Virginia, the Middlesex County sheriff was indicted August 31 on 25 felony counts for taking boats, cars, and cash that belonged to the county and converting them for his own use. Sheriff Gus Abbott, who is still on the job, faces charges of misappropriation of funds, bribery and embezzlement. He allegedly took a Volvo and three boats and is charged with 18 counts of misusing money from the county asset forfeiture fund and credit cards. He is also charged with three counts of bribery for receiving more than $1,200 from an unnamed individual. He was released on his own recognizance pending trial.

In Marion, Illinois, a Williamson County sheriff's deputy was arrested September 1 on charges he took seized marijuana and gave it to a third party to sell. Deputy Caleb Craft is charged with theft, unlawful possession of cannabis, and official misconduct. Craft, a member of the Southern Illinois Enforcement Group (SIEG), went down after SIEG got information about one of their own gone bad. Craft was last reported being held at the Jackson County jail pending a bond hearing.

In Las Cruces, New Mexico, the former Columbus police chief pleaded guilty August 25 to conspiring to run guns to a Mexican drug cartel. Former Chief Angelo Vega had been arrested in March along with a former town trustee, a former town mayor, and 10 others after being indicted on an 84-count gun-running indictment. Vega earned more than $10,000 from last October through March by conducting counter-surveillance for La Linea, the enforcement arm of the Juarez Cartel, using a town vehicle to run guns to Mexico, and purchasing thousands of dollars worth of body armor, boots, helmets, and clothing, including bulletproof vests for a La Linea leader. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy, aiding in the smuggling of firearms, and extortion under color of the law. Vega and his co-conspirators used their positions to traffic around 200 guns to Mexico, including assault rifles. He faces up to 35 years in federal prison.

In San Juan, Puerto Rico, a former Arecibo police officer was convicted August 30 of providing security for drug dealers. David Gonzalez Perry was found guilty of 28 counts of conspiracy and drug-related charges for providing security for 15 separate cocaine transactions and receiving $36,000 to do so. He also recruited 15 other people into drug trafficking conspiracies. He's looking at a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence and up to life in prison.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, one Tulsa police officer was convicted and one acquitted August 30 in a long-running corruption scandal that featured the use of manufactured evidence against innocent parties, some of whom were imprisoned, lying on search warrant affidavits, and perjured testimony. Officer Jeff Henderson was convicted of eight counts of perjury and civil rights violations, while Officer Bill Yelton was acquitted on all charges against him. Henderson was acquitted on more than 40 other counts related to individuals who have filed lawsuits against the city of Tulsa claiming they were imprisoned based on the results of search warrants for which Henderson wrote false affidavits. The verdicts mark the end of a federal investigation of Tulsa police officers and a federal agent that began in late 2008 and resulted in charges against six Tulsa police officers and the federal agent. One Tulsa officer and the federal agent pleaded guilty and two other Tulsa officers were convicted in the case. Two others were acquitted, but remain suspended while the department investigates whether they violated internal policies. Henderson is looking at up to 32 years in prison, and the city of Tulsa is still looking at having to defend a mess of lawsuits from victims of the rogue cops.

In Los Angeles, an LA County sheriff's captain has been placed on paid leave after a voice thought to be hers was heard on a wiretap directed at several drug trafficking suspects. Capt. Bernice Abram has been on leave since April, although the story just broke late last month. She was put on leave after federal authorities notified sheriff's officials that their captain may have been heard on the narcotics wiretap. Officials are trying to determine whether hers is the voice in the recordings and what relationship she had with the suspects. Earlier last month, FBI and other agents arrested the drug trafficking suspects, members of a Compton-based drug ring.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A drug-robbing Philly cop heads to prison; so does a Houston deputy who helped an Ecstasy dealer, but a lying Oklahoma cop will walk free, and a Texas prison guard is looking at prison for smuggling dope to prisoners. Let's get to it:

In Philadelphia, a former Philadelphia police officer was sentenced August 18 to more than 16 years in federal prison for a plot to steal more than a half-pound of heroin and resell it for cash. Mark Williams, 28, was one of three Philly cops arrested in the case. The other two have already been sentenced. Williams had been found guilty in March of conspiracy to distribute heroin, distribution of heroin, attempted robbery, using a firearm in relation to a violent crime and related offenses. The trio of bad cops went down for a fake traffic stop and bust of a drug courier in which they simply kept the "seized" drugs.

In Houston, a former Harris County sheriff's deputy was sentenced August 18 to five years in federal prison for taking bribes from a drug dealer to provide protection and access to confidential information. George Wesley Ellington, 39, had pleaded guilty in April to extortion under color of official right after a joint investigation by the FBI and the Harris County Sheriff's Office found that he was providing protection and accessing official records for a man he knew was dealing Ecstasy. His wife, Tania Katrisse Ellington, will also serve time for knowingly concealing her husband's illegal activities. She'll do a year and a day.

In Marlow, Oklahoma, a former Marlow police officer pleaded guilty August 19 to charges he lied on the witness stand during a drug trial. He had been indicted on two counts of perjury after prosecutors in the trial stopped the trial because of his falsified testimony. He was set to go on trial Monday, but accepted a plea deal where he copped to one count of perjury and received a three-year suspended sentence and a fine. He also will be unable to work in law enforcement again.

In Huntsville, Texas, a former Texas Department of Corrections guard pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges he was smuggling heroin into a state prison. Alejandro Smith, 21, copped to one count of possessing with the intent to distribute heroin. He went down after "a source" told the FBI he was smuggling dope to prisoners. The FBI set up a sting in which he received from an undercover officer a duffle bag containing heroin. Smith faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced in November.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

This week, it's drug task forces gone bad! And a dope-snorting and -peddling sheriff, too. Let's get to it:

In Nashville, Tennessee, an audit of West Tennessee's 24th Judicial Drug Task Force has found abuses, including thefts by the group's administrative assistant and jail trustees partying with seized crack cocaine. The investigation conducted by the state Comptroller's Division of County Audit, which also found that District Attorney General Hansel McCadams and Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew liked to drive around in a seized BMW Z-3 on personal business. Auditors found that items seized from drug defendants were stolen or misused, with the administrative assistant and her ex-husband admitting to taking drugs, utility trailers, and a flat-screen television from the task force. Auditors also found that jail trustees had access to seized items and were not adequately supervised. Some trustees gained access to drug case files, smoked pot and crack while at the task force headquarters, and stole cash, coins, and other items. Prosecutor McCadams was cited for using a variety of seized vehicles including a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a golf cart, a go cart, a four-wheeler and a trailer for his personal use. He flew on task force airplanes and a helicopter on non-official business, according to the report. No word yet on whether anyone is going to face criminal charges.

In San Francisco, the former commander of an East Bay drug task force was indicted Monday on a slew of federal corruption charges along with a friend who is a private investigator. Norman Wielsch, the former commander of the Contra Costa County Central Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET), and private eye Chris Butler face numerous counts in an ongoing scandal that has already enveloped other members of the squad. They allegedly ripped-off marijuana and methamphetamine from the evidence room and resold it, provided protection to a bordello, and committed armed robberies of prostitutes, among other corrupt activities made possible by Wielsch's command position with the task force. They are charged with narcotics conspiracy, two counts of methamphetamine distribution, five counts of marijuana distribution, four counts of theft from programs receiving federal funds, three counts of civil rights conspiracy, and two counts of extortion. They were being held pending a bail hearing at last report.

In Greenville, Missouri, the former Carter County sheriff was ordered last Friday to stand trial on three drug-related felonies, including distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine. Tommy Adams, 31, appeared at a preliminary hearing after which Associate Circuit Judge Randy Schuller found probable cause to believe he had committed those crimes. During the hearing, criminal investigators testified that Adams had consented to searches in April that led to the discovery of a small amount of cocaine in an evidence bag in his department-issued vehicle and that an evidence bag containing cocaine was missing from the evidence room. Investigators also found five bags of methamphetamine hidden under the vehicle's gas pedal. The searches came after an informant wearing a wire bought meth from Adams. After being arrested in May, Adams tested positive for methamphetamine. Adams resigned after his May arrest. He now awaits trial.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

One crooked sheriff gets indicted, while another cops a plea. Meanwhile, the border generates another three cases of corruption or thuggery. Let's get to it:

The lure of drug prohibition's filthy lucre proves corrosive to honest law enforcement. (image via Wikimedia)
In Shreveport, Louisiana, the Winn Parish sheriff was indicted August 2 on charges he helped his girlfriend cover up methamphetamine deals. Sheriff A.D. "Bodie" Little is one of 11 people charged with dealing meth in the Winn Parish and Shreveport areas. A state trooper testified that Little came under investigation by a joint state-federal task force after he asked the Caddo Parish sheriff to get a task force together to investigate Winn Parish drug dealers. The trooper testified that "it's clear he wanted everyone arrested except his girlfriend." Little has pleaded not guilty and was set to be released on $100,000 bond sometime this week.

In Carlisle, Kentucky, the Nicholas County sheriff pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing asset forfeiture money. Sheriff Dick Garrett was accused of taking more than $43,000 from the forfeiture account and and using at least $10,000 to pay his homeowners insurance and pay off personal loans. He pleaded guilty to theft by unlawful taking and abuse of public trusts. A jury had recommended five years in prison on each charge. Garrett will have to pay restitution of $38,237.60 within five years and resign immediately as sheriff. He will be sentenced in November.

In Phoenix, two Border Patrol agents were indicted August 4 on charges they forced accused drug smugglers to eat marijuana and flee barefoot and nearly naked into the desert. Agents Dario Castillo, 23, and Ramon Zuniga, 29, were charged with five civil rights violations by a federal grand jury in Tucson stemming from the November 2008 incident. According to prosecutors, the pair caught four men taking part in a marijuana smuggling operation. They forced the men to eat some of the weed and strip down to their underwear, burning their outer clothes and shoes and socks, then told them to flee into the desert night, where the temperature was around 40 degrees. Prosecutors said the actions deprived the four men of their civil rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. The two face 10 years each on the civil rights charges, while Castillo faces up to 20 years for a count of witness tampering.

In Laredo, Texas, a former Laredo police officer was sentenced August 4 to 6 ½ years in prison for helping a drug trafficker move and store cocaine. Pedro Martinez III, 34, agreed to escort loads of cocaine in exchange for payment from undercover FBI and BATF agents he thought were smugglers and recruited fellow officer Orlando Hale to help out. He escorted three loads and Hale escorted two, with the pair receiving $1,000 for each load. The undercover agents also persuaded Martinez to lead them to a cocaine supplier, who has already pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges and awaits sentencing. Martinez testified against Hale when Hale took his case to trial last year. Hale lost and got 24 ½ years. Martinez pleaded to bribery charges.

In Laredo, Texas, a Webb County deputy constable was arrested Monday by FBI agents on charges he acted as an escort for a cocaine trafficker. Eduardo Garcia, 44, was indicted for escorting loads of cocaine through Laredo for a local trafficker for $500 a pop. Unfortunately for Garcia, the trafficker became a DEA informant and flipped on him, allowing the DEA to record meetings where they would discuss load arrangements. Garcia, wearing his badge and driving a law enforcement van, would escort the loads through the city. The snitch also asked Garcia to run a pair of license plates through a state law enforcement data base, which he did. He's looking at up to 20 years in prison on three bribery charges and five more on one count of unauthorized access to protected computer information.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Cops cutting corners to make arrests, a cop caught providing protection for a load of cocaine, and a police force fired for its misbehavior make this week's rogues' gallery. Let's get to it:

In Houston, a Houston police sergeant was arrested July 27 on charges he took a bribe to provide protection for a vehicle carrying several kilograms of cocaine. Sgt. Leslie Atkins, 46, faces federal charges of aiding and abetting the possession with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and with accepting a $2,000 bribe to provide protection for a vehicle transporting seven kilograms of cocaine. He was arrested after a June 22 indictment was unsealed. The 19-year veteran has been suspended without pay. He faces a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence on the cocaine charge and could get life, and he faces up to 20 years for the bribery count. He is out on $50,000 bail.

In Oak Hill, Florida, the city council voted Monday to dissolve the police force over a number of issues, including the case of marijuana plants found on the property of 86-year-old Mayor Mary Lee Cook. Cook said publicly she believes the plants were placed there by someone within the department. Police Chief Diane Young and her six sworn officers were asked to turn in their guns and badges, and Volusia County is temporarily taking up some of the law enforcement slack until the city enters into a formal contract for services with the county.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a Tulsa man has sued the city and a Tulsa police officer alleging that he falsified a search warrant that led to his conviction and life sentence in prison. DeMarco Williams, 36, filed the lawsuit July 28 in federal court in Tulsa and becomes the fifth person to sue the city and current or former police officers accused of falsifying search warrants and other corrupt practices in a festering scandal that keeps on giving. Williams accuses indicted Officer John Henderson of falsifying the search warrant and thus depriving him of his civil rights. He also accuses the city of Tulsa of negligence for failing to keep its cops in line. Henderson and fellow Officer Bill Yelton were indicted a year ago on a slew of criminal counts and went on trial Monday. Henderson is charged with 58 counts: 22 related to perjury, 20 related to civil rights violations, 12 related to drugs, two witness tampering counts, one firearms count and one attempted bribery count. Some duplicate charges are expected to be reduced during the trial. Yelton is charged with eight counts: four related to civil rights violations, two related to witness tampering, one related to suborning perjury and one count of attempted retaliation against a witness, which was added in September 2010. Yelton is not involved in Williams' case. Williams spent six years in jail and prison after being charged and convicted. He was released last year as the Tulsa corruption scandal broke wide open.

In New Orleans, a New Orleans police officer resigned last Friday as he was being investigated for allegedly lying about a January drug arrest in the Algiers section of the city. Officer Samuel Birks, a four-year NOPD veteran, was charged in state court late last month with filing false public records and malfeasance in office. Birks and his patrol partner, Joshua Hunt, are accused of falsely arresting Alvin Bean, planting a rock of cocaine on him, and lying about the incident. Hunt resigned in June. The charges against Bean were dropped after his defense attorney was able to convince prosecutors that the officers' stories didn't add up. The district attorney's office then dropped the charges against Bean and filed them against Birks and Hunt. They have both pleaded not guilty.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

We've got sticky-fingered SWAT cops, we've got perverted probation officers, we've got smack-slinging uniformed police officers, we've got strung out, pill-stealing cops, and, of course, we've got crooked jail guards. Let's get to it:

Drug prohibition's filthy lucre tempts law enforcement (image via wikimedia.org}
In Waycross, Georgia, a Ware County prison guard was arrested last Friday after he set off a metal detector upon arriving at work and was found carrying contraband cell phones and marijuana. Theodis Martin, 25, is charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of more than an ounce of marijuana, bringing prohibited articles to the prison without the warden's permission, possession of prohibited items inside the guard line and trading with inmates without the consent of the warden. Although he was fired from his job the same night, he is still at the Ware County Jail.

In Kansas City, Kansas, three Kansas City Police SWAT team members pleaded not guilty Monday to federal charges they stole cash and other property from homes while serving search warrants, including one that was part of a federal sting operation. Officers Jeffrey Bell, Darryl Forrest, and Dusting Stillings are accused of stealing video game equipment during searches at several homes last year. Complaints from residents led to the sting, which led to additional charges the crooked trio stole video game equipment, other electronics, and $640 in cash in that incident. Bell and Forrest were charged with conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights and theft. Sillings was charged with conspiracy against rights and theft. They each face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the conspiracy charge. The other two charges carry a maximum one-year prison term and a $100,000 fine.

In Baltimore, a Baltimore police officer was indicted Tuesday along with four other people on drug and gun charges. Officer Daniel Redd and the others were charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin. According to court documents, the other drug ringleader obtained heroin from Africa and distributed it to Redd and others. Redd is also accused of distributing heroin to others, including incidents that took place in the Northwest District Police Station parking lot while Redd was in uniform. He is also charged with carrying a firearm while engaged in drug trafficking, which carries a mandatory minimum five-year federal prison sentence.

In Provo, Utah, a former Provo police officer was sentenced last Friday to probation for stealing prescription medications from a home where he had previously responded to a call. Tony Brewer, 33, was arrested after a Provo family said he went to their home to investigate a 911 call, then returned several times and stole Lortab pills. A family surveillance camera caught him in the act. Brewer's attorney said he got hooked on pain pills after a police training injury. He has since undergone drug treatment. He was charged possession of a controlled substance and theft, but the theft charge was dropped as part of the plea deal. He has to do six months of probation and pay a $623 fine.

In Portland, Oregon, a former federal probation officer was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison for sexually abusing five women under his supervision between April 2005 and June 2009. Mark John Walker, 52, had pleaded guilty in April to charges he violated the civil rights of his victims by sexually abusing them. As part of his plea agreement, he admitted forcing one woman to have sex with him and fondling four other women. Several of the women were drug defendants on probation.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A former Border Patrol agent goes to prison, a former deputy police chief cops a plea, a sticky-fingered former cop gets sent away, too, and a deputy and three jail guards get busted. Let's get to it:

In Atlanta, a Fulton county sheriff's deputy and three jail guards were arrested June 30 on charges they smuggled drugs and cell phones into the jail. Fulton County Sheriff's Deputy Marvie Trevino Dingle, 34, and detention officers Akil Scott, 31, Derick Deshun Frazier, 31, and Brian Shelby Anthony, 30, are accused of accepting payments to deliver contraband into the Fulton County jail. Anthony faces additional counts for using his position to net more than $26,000 while obtaining or distributing marijuana and cocaine earlier this year. Four non-jail workers were also charged with cocaine distribution outside the jail. The four went down after jail authorities heard rumors of drug sales and brought in FBI agents for an undercover operation. No word on bail or trial dates yet.

In Yorkville, Illinois, the former Yorkville deputy police chief pleaded not guilty July 6 to charges he stole opioid pain relievers from the department's drug take-back program. Dave Delaney, 37, is charged with possession of a controlled substance and theft of government property. The drug take-back program was designed to allow residents to turn over to police expired and unused prescription drugs for safe disposal, but Yorkville Police became suspicious that some of the turned in drugs were missing and asked the Illinois State Police to investigate. State police found some of the missing drugs in Delaney's possession. Delaney was demoted from his deputy chief position and is currently on unpaid leave with the department. He faces up to three years in prison and heads to court again in late August.

In Muscatine, Iowa, a former Muscatine police officer was sentenced last Friday to five years in prison after being caught with cocaine and missing drug money. Scott David Burk, 48, went down after fellow officers in the Muscatine County Drug Task Force searched his home and vehicle and found the dope and currency missing from the task force evidence room. In May, Burk pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, a drug tax stamp violation, and second-degree theft. The latter two counts are both felonies. Burk had been free on supervised release since pleading guilty, but was immediately taken into custody and delivered to the Iowa Department of Corrections in Oakdale. He had been undergoing drug treatment and attending Alcoholics Anonymous while awaiting sentencing.

In Brownsville, Texas, a former Customs and Border Patrol officer was sentenced July 6 to 17 years in federal prison for taking $500,000 in bribes from a Mexican drug cartel over a 3 ½ year period to allow cocaine and illegal aliens to cross the border unimpeded. Luis Enrique Ramirez, 39, had fled to Mexico after being indicted, but was captured while trying to reenter the US. He pleaded guilty in March to bribery, cocaine distribution, and cocaine conspiracy charges.

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