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Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A crooked Boston cop is headed for prison, a sticky-fingered Indianapolis cop now faces charges, and the trial of two Maryland prisoners accused of killing a guard is opening a window into corruption in the now shuttered House of Corrections. Let's get to it:

In Boston, a former Boston police officer was sentenced Monday to 18 years in federal prison for protecting cocaine shipments for FBI agents posing as drug dealers. Former Officer Nelson Carrasquillo was one of three Boston officers nailed in the sting; one other was sentenced to 13 years, while the other has yet to be sentenced. They were arrested in 2006 after traveling to Miami to collect $36,000 in payment from the supposed dealers. Carrasquillo provided counter-surveillance services, monitored Boston police radio, and guided a drug dealer in his travels, prosecutors said.

In Indianapolis, an Indianapolis police officer was arrested Monday for stealing a $725 money order during the search of a drug suspect's home and cashing it for himself last year. Officer Jason Edwards, 36, is charged with forgery and theft. Edwards was one of a group of narcotics officers who raided the home last December. The suspect later reported that the money order, with which he intended to pay his rent, was missing. His bank told him the money order had been cashed, with Jason Edwards in the "pay to the order of" line, and a Jason Edwards signature on the back. The suspect then contacted police, and Edwards subsequently admitted to taking the money order, although he claimed he found it on the ground outside the home. The eight-year veteran is now suspended without pay.

In Baltimore, 21 prison guards at the Maryland House of Corrections were implicated in contraband smuggling and other corrupt activities, according to state police reports given to defense attorneys for two inmates accused of killing a guard at the now shuttered prison. That guard, David McGuinn, was one of two killed at the prison during 2006, which led Gov. Martin O'Malley to shut it down shortly after he took office. Defense attorneys for the inmates are using the state police reports to allege that corrupt guards involved in smuggling "ordered the hit" on McGuinn, that they moved critical evidence -- the shank used to stab him -- and that they beat up an inmate and planted the shank on him to cover-up a beating they inflicted on him the day of McGuinn's death. Look for more to be revealed as this case moves forward.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A former Cleveland cop heads to the slammer for protecting cocaine shipments, and a former Georgia narc pleads guilty to stealing $80,000. Let's get to it:

In Akron, Ohio, a Cleveland police officer was sentenced February 26 to 10 years in federal prison for using his official position to protect drug runners for a cocaine distribution ring. Officer Zyonko Sarlog, 37, was arrested in August and pleaded guilty in November to money laundering and cocaine conspiracy charges. Prosecutors had asked for a longer sentence, citing among other things, the allegation that he used his mother to transport drug money.

In Rome, Georgia, the former head of the Bartow County Narcotics Task Force pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing more than $80,000 from the sheriff's office. That money was seized from criminal suspects. As a captain in the Bartow County Sheriff's Office from 2004 through January 2007, Brenton Garmon, 36, oversaw money seized by the drug and canine units. But instead of depositing all funds in the appropriate accounts, he embezzled $80,493 for his own use. He pleaded guilty to one count of embezzling and faces up to 10 years in prison when sentenced in May.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A Texas court bailiff accused of peddling cocaine and selling guns to the Gulf Cartel, two TSA officials indicted for helping to smuggle drugs onto airplanes, and a California evidence tech with sticky fingers and a bad habit. Just another week on the corrupt cop front. Let's get to it:

In Brownsville, Texas, a Cameron County court bailiff was arrested last Friday on charges he was dealing cocaine and selling high-powered weapons to Mexico's Gulf Cartel. Oscar Pena, 26, was one of two men arrested after a five-month joint investigation by local authorities, the FBI, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) known as Operation Dirty Pig. His charges range from weapons charges to operating a continuing criminal enterprise to possession of cocaine. In raids associated with the arrests, police seized 14 assault rifles, five semi-automatic handguns, a sawed-off shotgun, large amounts of ammunition, a bullet-proof vest, $3,000 in cash, and more than a kilo of cocaine.

In Atlanta, two Transportation Security Administration officers and a Delta Airlines employee were indicted Tuesday on charges related to an alleged drug-smuggling operation at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. TSA employees Jon Patton, 44, and Andre Mays, 24, and Delta employee Leslie Adgar, 42, are charged with conspiring to distribute narcotics and attempted distribution of cocaine and heroin. They went down after they agreed to let a man smuggle two kilos of cocaine past security and onto a Delta flight to New York in exchange for $8,000 in December. Unfortunately for the Atlanta trio, their smuggler was also a snitch for the DEA who set them up for two more runs, this time with fake cocaine and heroin. The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $4 million. The trio are currently out on bond.

In Vacaville, California, a former Solano County sheriff's evidence technician pleaded no-contest last Friday to seven felony counts related to the theft of pharmaceutical drugs stored in an evidence room. Sean Colfax Wilson, 35, was facing a 179-count criminal complaint when he copped a plea to two counts of possessing Vicodin and Oxycontin for sale, three counts of burglary, one count of embezzlement of evidence and one count of falsifying evidence. Wilson, who had worked as an evidence tech for the county for two years, was arrested in December 2007 after investigators discovered a large variety of prescription drugs had gone missing. After his arrest, Wilson's attorney told the court Wilson had a substance abuse problem and had taken the drugs for personal use, but he still copped to possession for sale. He faces an April sentencing date and he sits in jail until then.

Latin America: Colombian Soldiers Convicted of Killing Colombian Narcotics Police

In one of the most depraved cases of corruption in the Colombian armed forces in recent years, a Colombian court Monday convicted an army colonel and 14 soldiers of massacring 10 members of an elite, US-trained anti-drug police unit and an informant at the behest of drug traffickers. A judge in Cali found Col. Bayron Carvajal and his soldiers guilty of aggravated homicide for the May 2006 ambush outside a rural nursing home near Cali. The men will be sentenced in two weeks.

The soldiers bushwhacked the police unit as it was about to seize 220 pounds of cocaine that the informant had told them was stashed inside a psychiatric facility in the town of Jamundí. The soldiers fired hundreds of rounds at the police and attacked them with hand grenades. Six of the police officers were found to have been shot at close range. No drugs were recovered.

During the trial, more than a hundred witnesses testified. Some of them linked Carvajal to both leftist guerrillas and drug traffickers. Carvajal claimed his troops were attacking leftist rebels working with drug traffickers, but that didn't fly. Neither did the military's original explanation that the deaths were accidental. The military later conceded that its inquiries suggested links between the soldiers and drug gangs operating in the region.

Under Plan Colombia, the US has sent an average of $650 million a year in recent years to fight the drug trade and the leftist guerrillas of the FARC. Most of that money has gone to expand, equip, and train the Colombian military and police. Part of the rationale for that aid was that it would reduce corruption and human rights abuses in the Colombian armed forces.

The Carvajal case is not the only one to tarnish the image of the Colombian military lately. In the last two years, high-ranking military officers have been accused of selling secrets to drug traffickers to help them escape capture and planting fake bombs to advance their careers. Killings of noncombatants by the military are also reportedly on the increase after decreasing during the early years of Plan Colombia.

Meanwhile, for all the billions spent, that Colombian cocaine just keeps on coming.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Slim pickings on the corrupt cop front this week, but we still have a Los Angeles probation officer rounded up in a major bust and a small town Pennsylvania cop about to pay for his big ambitions. Let's get to it:

In Los Angeles, an LA County probation officer was arrested over the weekend in a major federal drug bust that netted a dozen people in the San Gabriel and Pomona valleys. Probation Officer Crystal Dillard was arrested along with her boyfriend, Jerron Johns, whom authorities identified as a member of the Crips. She is accused of participating in multiple crack cocaine sales. Dillard and Johns appeared in a 17-count indictment accusing 23 defendants of participating in a ring that sold marijuana, cocaine, and crack cocaine. Dillard is accused of making drug drops at various locations where Johns would pick them up and deliver them to a person who turned out to be a confidential informant. Dillard and Johns are now in federal custody.

In Pittsburgh, a former South Fayette Township patrolman awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiring to distribute cocaine. Bernard Golling and his friend Michael Monz were arrested in July upon receiving nine pounds of cocaine in a Fedex shipment. Monz was sentenced last Friday to 57 months in federal prison. Golling will be sentenced May 23. He faces more time than Monz because he was in uniform when he picked up the package and thus carried a gun during the commission of a drug offense.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A Pennsylvania cop's bad habits get him in trouble, a Boston cop goes to prison for steroids and perjury, and a Texas Department of Public Safety technician goes away for a long, long time for ripping off the lab's cocaine stash. Let's get to it:

In Erie, Pennsylvania, an Erie Police lieutenant was arrested Sunday night on charges he stole cocaine from the police evidence room for his personal use. Lt. Robert Liebel, 46, went down in a sting operation where investigators used surveillance equipment to watch him take 12 grams of coke out of a larger stash investigators had placed in the evidence room earlier in the day. When confronted, Liebel admitted having some of the cocaine in his hand and the rest hidden in the Erie police station. He told investigators he took it for his own use. We don't run corrupt cops stories about cops who merely use drugs, but in this case, the drug-using cop went bad when he stole from his employers, who in turn had taken the stash from private (albeit illegal) businesses. Now, he's trying to make a $100,000 bond.

In Boston, a former Boston police officer was sentenced Tuesday to a year and a day in prison for distributing steroids and committing perjury and obstructing justice in an ongoing federal probe of police corruption. Former officer Edgardo Rodriguez, 38, went down after federal investigators in a 2006 case where three Boston cops were indicted for guarding cocaine shipments heard those cops mention steroid sales within the department on wiretapped phone calls. But it was the perjury and obstruction of justice by lying to a grand jury and trying to convince another Boston cop to do so that got the prosecutor and judge unhappy enough to give him jail time.

In Houston, a former Department of Public Safety technician was sentenced last Friday to 45 years in prison for stealing cocaine from the agency's Jersey Village crime lab. Former tech Jesse Hinojosa, Jr. had pleaded guilty in December to two counts of possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine with intent to distribute after he and three other men were arrested in a scheme to sell more than 50 pounds of coke stolen from the lab. The other three are doing 25, 25, and 45 years.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

More Los Angeles area cops go down in a broad conspiracy, a Customs officer gets nailed for helping traffickers, a Kentucky cop gets nailed for peddling pills, another NYPD cop gets busted, and so does a Tennessee sheriff. Just another week in the drug war. Let's get to it:

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Hamilton County Sheriff was arrested last Friday by federal agents who charged him with extorting money from ethnic Indian convenience store owners and laundering what he thought was drug money sent from Mexico in cremation urns. Sheriff Billy Long, 55, was arrested after an undercover FBI investigation that began in April 2007. Beginning then, Long was videotaped and audiotaped taking cash payments amounting to more than $17,000 from what he thought were convenience store owners seeking to protect their illegal gambling activities and sales of meth precursors. The FBI also hornswoggled Long into accepting five cash payments totaling $6,550 that he agreed to deliver as a payment to someone supposedly laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegal drug proceeds. Long was set for a bail hearing early this week.

In Los Angeles, a former LAPD officer and his brother, a former Long Beach police officer, were convicted January 30 of ripping off drug dealers in a series of burglaries and robberies between 1999 and 2001. Former LAPD Officer William Ferguson and former Long Beach Police Officer Joseph Ferguson were found guilty of conspiring to violate civil rights, conspiring to possess narcotics with the intent to distribute, and possession of narcotics with intent to distribute. They were part of a broader conspiracy to rip-off dealers that has so far resulted in guilty pleas from 15 people, including members of the LAPD, Long Beach Police, LA County Sheriff's Department, and the California Department of Corrections. The rogue cops would target locations where drugs were being sold, then hit the places, pretending that they were conducting legitimate drug raids. The victims were variously restrained, cuffed, threatened, or assaulted during the robberies. The cops would give their booty to civilian co-conspirators to sell, then split the proceeds among themselves.

In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a Customs and Border Protection officer was convicted last Friday on federal charges of attempting to help traffickers smuggle cocaine and heroin into Miami International airport from Puerto Rico. Officer Edwin Disla was found guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine, attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and attempted possession with intent to distribute heroin. Disla went down in a sting after agreeing to carry what he thought was cocaine through the Luis Munoz Marin Airport in Puerto Rico and Miami International Airport. During his trip, he used his law enforcement authority to bypass security. He was arrested in Puerto Rico after agreeing to take possession of multi-pound shipments of what he thought were heroin and cocaine. He faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced in April.

In Louisville, Kentucky, a former central Kentucky police officer was sentenced Monday for plotting with his girlfriend to peddle Oxycontin. Former Lebanon Police Sgt. David Carr, 33, was sentenced to one year and a day after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute the drug. He and his girlfriend were arrested together in June; she got four months in jail and four months of house arrest.

In New York City, an NYPD detective was indicted January 31 on federal charges that he was providing confidential information to cocaine dealers. Detective Luis Batista pleaded not guilty to drug dealing, obstruction of justice, and other charges in a case where he is accused of participating in a drug ring run by old friends. Another NYPD officer, internal affairs Sgt. Henry Conde, was also indicted, on charges that last year he tipped Batista that he was the target of an internal probe.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A Texas probation officer gets busted, a Baltimore cop gets caught beating on a suspected drug buyer, a Virginia cop gets popped for meth, a slew of prison guards get busted in Florida, and another in New Mexico. Just another week in the drug war. Let's get to it:

In Big Sandy, Texas, an Upshur County juvenile probation officer was arrested last month on drug possession charges after police raided the home she shared with her boyfriend. Probation officer Jessica Hill is charged with possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of a dangerous drug. The raid came down after an intoxicated man was arrested and said he bought the methamphetamine found in is sock at Hill's home. The police affidavit for the search warrant said officers suspected cocaine, marijuana, meth, and pills were being sold out of the home. Cops found scales, baggies with residues, marijuana, white powders, various pills, and a 9 mm handgun, among other items. According to a later report, Hill's boyfriend moved out some months ago, leaving her as the probable drug seller, assuming in fact drug sales took place. Hill has been freed on bond, but now has to find a new job -- she was fired shortly after her arrest.

In Baltimore, a Baltimore police officer was arrested last Friday for assaulting a man he thought was a drug buyer. Instead, the victim was an undercover detective posing as a drug customer in a sting set up by detectives investigating a citizen complaint against the officer. Now that officer, Jerome Hill, 35, has been suspended without pay and faces second-degree assault charges. He was under investigation because of a prior "serious allegation" made by a citizen. Charging documents described how one undercover detective stood on a street corner while another called in a complaint of a suspicion person who seemed to be looking for drugs. In a few minutes, Officer Hill arrived, got out of his car, and punched the undercover detective in the face without provocation. Hill and another officer then attempted to handcuff the undercover detective, but his colleagues arrived on the scene and took Hill to headquarters for questioning. Residents on North Clinton Street, where Hill was arrested, said he had a reputation as a tough officer and that police routinely rough up local youths.

In Abingdon, Virginia, a former Saltville police officer was convicted on two drug charges last Friday. Former Police Investigator Gary Ray Call was convicted of attempted possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and being an unlawful drug user in possession of a firearm. Call went down after a cooperating witness said she had sold him meth on previous occasions and then set him up to buy four bag of fake meth for resale. According to trial testimony, Call had been using meth for three years and had begun using it with a Smyth County deputy while he was working as a DARE officer. Call is looking at 18 to 24 months in federal prison.

In Sumter County, Florida, nine federal prison employees were indicted last Friday on charges they smuggled contraband -- mostly tobacco, but also marijuana and heroin -- into the Federal Correctional Complex in Coleman. Most were accused of receiving bribes of up to $20,000. The charges were filed against seven correctional officers, a cook and a drug-treatment counselor who worked at the five low-, medium- and high-security prison facilities at Coleman.

In Clovis, New Mexico, a Curry County jail officer was arrested January 22 and charged with smuggling marijuana to inmates. Guard Carsten Douglas, 23, admitted smuggling in packages of marijuana, but said he was blackmailed by inmates. According to Douglas, an inmate stole his handcuff keys, and he agreed to carry in packages in return for the inmate not telling authorities about the incident. He admitted to delivering four packages in a one week period. He now faces four counts of bringing contraband into a jail and four counts of conspiracy.

Latin America: Mexican Soldiers Raid Police in Drug Fight in Rio Grande Valley Border Cities

Elite Mexican army troops relieved municipal police forces of duty in border towns in Tamaulipas state Tuesday as part of President Felipe Calderón's bid to break the power of Mexican drug trafficking organizations. From Ciudad Juárez, across the Rio Grande River from El Paso, all the way down to Matamoros, near where the river drains into the Gulf of Mexico, the Mexican military was on the move.

Mexican anti-drug patrol
In Nuevo Laredo, soldiers surrounded police headquarters at 8:00am, ordering officers to remain inside while they disarmed them and searched for evidence linking them to drug traffickers. Members of the army's elite Airborne Special Forces Group set up checkpoints throughout the city.

Similar takeovers were reported in Reynosa and Matamoros, where the Los Angeles Times, citing local media, reported 600 police officers were confined to their stations and being questioned by federal authorities.

The Dallas Times reported that Mexican soldiers were also pouring into Ciudad Juárez, setting up checkpoints, and searching homes for weapons. Some soldiers were reported stationed outside a hospital where a top state law enforcement official was recovering from an assassination attempt by presumed drug cartel hit men. Authorities in Juárez had last week asked Calderón for help after 29 people were killed there so far this year.

The military takeovers are not a new tactic for Calderón; he did the same thing last year in Tijuana, sending more than 3,000 soldiers and federal police into the border city to vet local police. That operation lasted three weeks; since then, drug prohibition-related violence has continued unabated. At least 17 people were killed there last week, including three senior police officials, one of whom was shot in his home alongside his wife and two daughters.

It has been similarly hot along the Rio Grande, where the troops are now on patrol. Just two weeks ago, we reported on gun battles between traffickers and soldiers in Rio Bravo, between Matamoros and Reynosa, and a subsequent attack on soldiers on patrol in Reynosa.

President Calderón is aggressively waging the war on drugs, or more specifically, on his country's powerful, violent, and competing drug trafficking organizations. More than 20,000 are taking part in anti-drug efforts, and the arrests and the seizures continue. But so does the killing, and so does the drug traffic.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Scandal broadens in Brooklyn South, a cop working for a federal drug task force goes bad in California, and a pair of private prison guards in Texas get in trouble. Let's get to it:

In New York City, the Brooklyn South Narcotics scandal continues to grow. On Monday night, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly transferred the commanding officer of citywide narcotics, Deputy Chief James O'Neill; the head of Brooklyn South Narcotics, Inspector James O'Connell; and two Brooklyn South Narcotics captains, John Maldari and Joseph Terranova. That move came after word leaked out that 15 Brooklyn South Narcotics detectives have been put on desk duty as the NYPD Bureau of Internal Affairs investigates charges they took sex, drugs and cash from drug users and dealers. Four others have been arrested on charges they stole drugs to pay off informants. The latest trouble in the scandal-plagued precinct began to unravel when Detective Sean Johnstone, 34, forgot he was wearing a wire as he bragged to his partner about seizing 28 bags of cocaine, but only turning in 17. He and another officer, Julio Alvarez, 30, were arrested December 20. Those arrests led to the arrests last week of Sgt. Michael Arenella, 31, and Officer Jerry Bowens, 41, of the same squad. All are accused of stealing cash from drug dealers, and at least one is accused of having sex with an informant.

In Huntington Park, California, a police officer working in a federal drug task force was arrested January 17 for cultivating informants to help him identify and rob drug dealers and sell their wares. Huntington Park Police Sgt. Alvaro Murillo, 44, even tried to rob an undercover DEA agent posing as a dealer, the federal indictment alleges. Murillo and one of his informants face one count each of conspiracy to possess cocaine and marijuana with the intent to distribute.

In Liberty, Texas, two jail guards were arrested Tuesday after agreeing to smuggle drugs in to a federal prisoner. Guards Shondlyn Jones, 25, and Manitra Taylor, 42, accepted drugs and cash from an undercover agent. They now face charges of conspiring to delivery marijuana and ecstasy. The pair were employed by CiviGenics, Inc., a private prison firm that operates the Liberty County jail.

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