In an extraordinary crackdown, 16 former Puerto Rico police officers have pleaded guilty to essentially turning part of their department into a crime ring.
The crooked ex-cops “used their affiliation with law enforcement to commit robbery and extortion, to manipulate court records in exchange for bribes, and to sell illegal narcotics,” the Justice Department announced in a statement Monday.
Two of the men were sergeants, and the others were officers in the Police of Puerto Rico. The department’s unironic motto: Proteccion. Integridad.
The Justice Department’s press release reports that:
“The officers worked together to conduct traffic stops and enter the homes of suspected criminals to steal money, property and drugs for their own personal enrichment. They planted evidence to make false arrests, and then extorted money from their victims in exchange for their release from custody.
“Additionally, in exchange for bribe payments, the officers gave false testimony, manipulated court records and failed to appear in court when required so that criminal cases would be wrongfully dismissed. The officers also sold and distributed wholesale quantities of narcotics.”
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico and Special Agent in Charge Carlos Cases of the FBI’s San Juan Division made the announcement.
Sentencing is set for December.