“They were like bank robbers with badges,” said Dennis Fitzgerald, an attorney and former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent who taught undercover tactics for the U.S. State Department. “It had no law enforcement objective. The objective was to make money.”
Fitzgerald is talking about the small-town police department that just got caught laundering millions of dollars in cooperation with international drug cartels.
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According to Raw Story, The Bal Harbour PD and the Glades County Sheriff’s Office set up a giant money laundering scheme with the professed goal of busting drug cartels and stemming the surge of drug dealing on the rise in the area.
But the plans started to unravel when federal investigators and the Miami-Herald found strange things going on:
“The two-year operation, which took in more than $55 million from criminal groups, resulted in zero arrests but netted $2.4 million for the police posing as money launderers.”
It appears the police were enjoying themselves on the stolen funds. The Miami-Beach area village’s police made exorbitant purchases ranging from first-class flights and luxury hotels to Mac computers and submachine guns.
All the while, the rest of the Bal Harbour PD and Glades County Sheriffs were buying hi-end tech to outfit police cruisers and other equipment.
Investigators are calling the heist a money-laundering scheme “for the ages,” something “out of a movie.”
The operation funneled millions of dollars to overseas criminals and interfered with investigations being carried out on known money launderers.
The latest revelations show that at least 20 people in Venezuela were sent drug money from the Florida cops, including William Amaro Sanchez, the foreign minister under Hugo Chavez and now special assistant to President Nicolas Maduro.
They wired a total of $211,000 to Sanchez, even while the U.S. government was investigating Venezuelan government leaders involved in the drug trade.
Instead of reporting their knowledge of Sanchez to federal agencies, the cops continued to launder money, skimming a little off the top, and all the while aiding Sanchez in his machinations, which likely included political corruption.
This kind of abuse and fraud by law enforcement is one of the points raised by critics of the war on drugs.
They argue that the government creates a black market of drugs and blood money through prohibition, only to grant itself to power to supersede the law under the authority of fighting the war on drugs.
While the professed goal is to “sting” the bad guys, governments and drug enforcement agencies rake in millions upon millions of dollars to keep the cycle going.
(Photo Credit: EPA)