According to ABC News on Monday, police in a Southern Florida community outside of Fort Lauderdale have been using a controversial tactic to conduct cocaine sting operations and have been raking in millions of dollars in the process.
According to a six-month investigation by the Sun Sentinel, undercover detectives in Sunrise, Fla., seized millions of dollars from the drug stings, offering cash rewards for the confidential informants who help police attract faraway buyers, including paying one informant more than $800,000 over the past five years.
Police in Sunrise have been conducting what are known as “reverse stings” for years, according to the Sun Sentinel, and over the past two years have netted $5.8 million in seized money.
The paper’s investigation has led the police department to stop the cocaine stings, with Mayor Michael Ryan, who supports the police work, blaming the Sun Sentinel for exposing the department’s strategies and compromising the undercover work.
Since 2009, according to the Sun Sentinel report, Sunrise has arrested at least 190 people on cocaine-trafficking charges. That is more than any other municipality in the county. Only seven of those arrested lived in Sunrise.
In the report by ABC News, they featured Gus Borjas, a nurse by profession and a father of four from Homestead, Fla., got caught up in one of the Sunrise Police's cocaine stings. Lured by a paid informant he had known for years who promised to repay an old debt, Borjas agreed to bring a satchel filled with $23,000 in cash to a parking lot and, when he got there, he walked straight into a trap, Borjas said.
Undercover video from the case shows a second paid informant aggressively drawing him into the action. Eventually, the female informant placed a kilo of cocaine in Borjas' bag to establish possession.
Suddenly, Borjas was now a drug offender and facing a possible mandatory 15-year minimum sentence for narcotics trafficking. According to Miami attorney Alan Ross, who defended Borjas in court, the scale of the Sunrise Police cocaine stings seemed "almost industrial".
The mother of a teenage boy, Eckert wrote to the mayor earlier in the week, expressing concern about the safety of her son and his friends riding bikes near Sawgrass Mills, the sprawling outlet mall where undercover police and informants posing as cocaine dealers have staged stings.
The mayor did not address huge overtime payments to undercover officers and lucrative rewards to a network of secret informants.
Four of the five commissioners support the practice. Commissioner Neil Kerch, a defense attorney, declined to comment because of the nature of his profession.
The seized money buys new guns, radios, protective gear, computers, training and other crime-fighting expenses for the police department.
Do you think this is an acceptable practice for police?
Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner.
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