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Ga. officers accused of protecting drug deals

ATLANTA — Ten current and former metro Atlanta law enforcement officers targeted in an undercover federal sting were arrested Tuesday, accused of accepting thousands of dollars to provide protection during drug deals, said U.S. Attorney Sally Yates.

The arrests came from an investigation of an Atlanta-area street gang in August 2011, Yates said. Those arrested include seven metro Atlanta police officers, two former DeKalb County jail officers and a contract officer with Federal Protective Services. Five other people have also been charged in the operation.

Federal agents learned from someone associated with the gang that police officers were accepting cash payments to provide protection for the gang's drug deals, authorities said. The payments were generally several thousand dollars per transaction, and some participated in several transactions, authorities said.

"Time after time, they took cash from people they should have been arresting," Yates said at a news conference.

The gang members hoped the officers' presence would prevent rival drug groups and legitimate officers from disrupting the deals.

Federal agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives worked with a cooperator to put out the word that gang members were seeking police protection for upcoming deals. Three people who were not officers but acted as go-betweens provided the cooperator the names of officers who wanted to provide protection.

Federal agents worked with the inside operators to arrange for officers to provide security for drug deals that were described in advance as involving the sale of multiple kilograms of cocaine. The transactions, which involved agents and cooperators exchanging money for sham cocaine, were audio and video recorded.

The police officers who are accused of participating usually appeared in uniform and displayed a weapon. Some of them showed up in their police vehicles to patrol parking lots where the deals took place. One went so far as to suggest a meeting in a high school parking lot where the transaction could be made using backpacks to make it less suspicious, Yates said.

The arrested officers are: one Atlanta Police Department officer, two DeKalb County Police Department officers, two Forest Park Police Department sergeants, one MARTA Police Department officer, one Stone Mountain Police Department officer, one contract officer for the Federal Protective Services, and two former DeKalb County Sheriff's Office jail officers who presented themselves as current deputies. The five other people arrested acted as go-betweens and recruiters.

"What is troubling to us is that it is widespread," Yates said. "It wasn't limited to one group in a single agency."

There is no indication the 10 officers and former officers all knew each other and it's not believed they were working together. But they may have known the same people who acted as go-betweens, Yates said.

Those arrested face a variety of charges having to do with attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm to further a drug trafficking crime, and conspiracy to commit extortion by accepting bribes.

The investigation is ongoing, and Yates declined to comment on the underlying gang investigation that led to the discovery of the corrupt activity.

Comments

kevin 1 year, 2 months ago

They sure lined their ducks up in a row, but to no avail. How will we ever get drug distribution systems under control when many cops are involved and on the take? They are supposed to protect & serve us. Ha. I hope the judge throws the book at them for taking our tax money for personal felonies.

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pcjohn 1 year, 2 months ago

I hope so also. But history tells me that they will get minimum sentences after pleading guilty to reduced charges. It's part of the code of police work.

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GeorgiaResident 1 year, 2 months ago

The code of police work? Tell me pcjohn, what do you know about police work? I've seen your comments. You seem to think law enforcement is some secret community of evil, unethical, law breakers. Some police officers do things that are unethical and illegal, and they deserve to be punished just the same as the people they swore to protect. Those officers, however, represent an extremely small percentage of law enforcement officers across the country. I find it interesting when I respond to people's homes and they make it clear they don't like police officers, yet they call us when they are the victim of a crime. Interesting though it may be, I look past the irorny and provide them with the same level of service I give every citizen. Why? Because I conduct my business as a professional, just like many of my fellow officers. Don't generalize an entire profession because some don't take their oath seriously. Don't pretend like you know anything about police work.

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pcjohn 1 year, 2 months ago

And you should not assume I know nothing about police work or anything else about me. I base my opinions on incidents I have personally observed, read about in print, or (when lucky) seen on video. Cops commit egregious acts that their fellow cops turn their head from and play the "see no evil" monkey. When is the last time you faulted or arrested one of the guys with a badge and charged him/her at the same level you would charge a regular citizen?
It is true we call the police - we HAVE to do it since we do not have the authority to handle situations ourselves except under life-threatening conditions. It is what keeps you employed so don't knock it. Many people dislike cops because they see the hypocrisy of their not always observing the laws they hold us to follow. And I don't think they ever are penalized by their own Departments to a degree that fits the offense. For example - the dunces, two of which were sergeants, tased a service worker 2 years ago and served no time in jail and were allowed to resign so they could ply their trade in some other jurisdiction. I believe you would admit that had the service worker tazed the cop he would have been violently arrested and charged with , at least, assault with a weapon or similar felony (assuming the cop didn't shoot him while "fearing for his life"). Some of you guys are great, but when you turn your backs on misbehaving fellow cops you become a co-conspirator and are just as guilty as the offender. Unfortunately, that information rarely leaves the station house and I guess you all have a little chuckle about it.

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pcjohn 1 year, 2 months ago

Forgot to add - if you mean what you say and provide the same service to all then I congratulate you. Apparently that oath meant something to you. Thanks for your service, and keep safe.

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notblind 1 year, 2 months ago

Mug shots would be illuminating.

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SuxBeanU 1 year, 2 months ago

gives new meaning to the slogan "to protect and serve."

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