A classic corrupt cop trial is underway in New York, two Texas Border Patrol agents are headed for prison, cops in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania get in trouble for warning drug dealers they were being watched, and a sticky-fingered Texas deputy couldn't keep his hands off the drug buy money. Just another week in the drug war. Let's get to it:
In New York City, the racketeering trial of two former New York detectives linked to the Mafia murders of eight people got underway this week. Detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa are charged with racketeering, kidnapping, murder, obstruction of justice, and money laundering. The indictment also alleges that when the pair retired, they moved to Las Vegas and began distributing methamphetamine. Prosecutor Mitra Hormozi told jurors during opening statements that the pair had put themselves on the payroll of Mafia figure Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, an underboss for the Luchese crime family. The pair got $75,000 for each murder and also got $4,000 a month each for funneling information to the Mafia, Hormozi said. In one case, Eppolito and Caracappa arrested a mobster, but turned him over to Casso to be killed. In another case, they mistakenly identified a man with the same name as their mob target; the innocent man was gunned down in a Christmas Day 1986 hail of gunfire. Both men put in more than 20 years with the department before retiring in 1990.
In El Paso, Texas, two Border Patrol agents who shot a fleeing drug courier in the buttocks were found guilty March 9 of assault, weapons crimes, tampering with evidence, and deprivation of civil rights. Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean face at least 10 years in federal prison for shooting Osvaldo Andrade Davila, a Mexican citizen, as he fled back across the border when they interrupted his effort to carry a package of drugs into the US. Ramos and Compean also conspired to cover up the shooting by removing spent shell casings from the scene. The pair turned down a plea bargain for 18-month sentences. They have been suspended with pay since the February 2005 incident, and Border Patrol officials said they will now consider firing them.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a Tulsa police officer has been indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of obstructing justice, KOTV-6 reported Tuesday. Tulsa Police gangs officer Rico Yarbrough was indicted last month and is accused of giving confidential police information to a suspected drug dealer. According to the complaint, Yarbrough, an 11-year veteran, was told that a certain suspect was "under investigation by the FBI for narcotics distribution, illegal gambling, money laundering, and other potential federal violations," and then tipped the suspect to an impending raid. The FBI had tapped Yarbrough's phone for a month and caught him saying things like: "They, federal agents, are getting ready to hit the house right now!" and "I'll tell you what's got the FBI so ticked -- I didn't let on I knew you as well as I did." Yarbrough has been suspended pending trial.
In Doylestown, Pennsylvania, a former New Britain police officer faces trial for tipping off a drug dealer that he was the subject of an undercover investigation, the Bucks County Courier Times reported March 10. Jonathan Knight, 35, waived a preliminary hearing last week. Knight was charged in September with hindering apprehension and obstructing the administration of law for allegedly telling a local marijuana dealer who was a long-time "buddy" he was under investigation. He faces up to three years in prison.
In Gatesville, Texas, a Coryell County Sheriff's Deputy who serves as an undercover investigator was placed on paid leave February 22 after being accused of stealing money intended for use in drug buys by the Narcotics Division, KCEN-TV reported. Senior Deputy Gary Medford, a 21-year veteran, is being investigated by the Texas Rangers. Although the investigation began early last month, it was not made public until last week.