Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Operation Guard Shack: FBI Sting Nets Corrupt Cops in Puerto Rico

Via NY Times -

In what officials described as the largest investigation into police corruption in the history of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Justice Department on Wednesday announced the indictments of 89 police officers and 44 other people in Puerto Rico on drug trafficking charges.

More than 900 F.B.I. agents fanned out across the island on Wednesday to arrest 129 of the 133 accused. The remaining four were still at large on Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

Charges laid out in 26 indictments accuse the police officers and other law enforcement officials of providing security for drug deals in exchange for payments of $500 to $4,500 per transaction. The investigation included 125 deals carried out by undercover F.B.I. agents from July 2008 to last month, federal officials said.

"This department has one message for anyone willing to abuse the public trust for personal gain: You will be caught. You will be stopped. And you will be punished," Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told reporters at a news conference announcing the indictments.

The F.B.I. said it secretly flew more than 750 agents to Puerto Rico to assist the 160 agents who are based on the island in carrying out the arrests. In all, the bureau said, more than 1,000 agents participated in the investigation and the sweeps.

The United States attorney for Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, said that some of the defendants had recruited friends and colleagues into the crimes, but that investigators did not believe there was one big, organized conspiracy. Rather, several pockets of corrupt law enforcement officials were separately doing similar things, she said.

"Some of them knew each other, and they recruited others, but they don’t all know each other," Ms. Rodríguez-Vélez said. "They’re from different parts of the island."

Shawn Henry, the executive assistant director of the F.B.I., said that the Puerto Rican police department was a partner in the investigation from its beginning, and that it was aware that the agents were flying in to carry out the raids on Wednesday.

"It’s important to recognize that most of the police officers in Puerto Rico are honest, law-abiding officers and that today the investigation that we’re talking about focused on a small minority, a very small percentage, of those officers, who chose to abuse the public’s trust for their own personal gain," Mr. Henry said.


Operation Guard Shack - Historic Takedown in Puerto Rico

FBI: Press Conference on Operation Guard Shack

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