By Victor Ochieng
Raw Story reported that police officers attached to Bal Harbour, located on the northern end of Miami Beach, were busted laundering money for drug cartels.
The police department has been accused of receiving millions of dollars from different international drug cartels in illicit transactions.
Before turning into a scheme to clean up blood money, it was a brilliant idea meant to help cut down the activities of drug cartels. It was a progressive scheme designed by Bal Harbour Police Department and the office of Glades Country Sheriff. The two entities established a robust money laundering scheme, whose intention was to help lure international drug cartels and have them arrested and charged. But that project couldn’t continue smoothly after officers attached to the Federal Bureau of Investigations and Miami Herald realized there were some strange activities going on in the laundering process.
The two-year scheme didn’t result in any arrests. Instead, more than $55 million was received from the drug cartels and police officers who played the role of money launders netted up to $2.4 million.
The 12-member team set up to oversee the program wasn’t just confined to Florida, but carried out its activities in different parts of the country and beyond, going as far as Puerto Rico.
It later appeared that police officers were benefitting from the blood money. Some small town cops got to enjoy luxury lifestyles; book first class air tickets, spend time in luxury hotels, and purchase sophisticated submachine guns and gadgets. It also became apparent that the Bal Harbour PD and the office of Glades County Sheriff had some questionable amounts of money purchasing fancy equipment.
Besides the properly recorded expenditure by the task force, there are also several withdrawals running into thousands of dollars that were made by police officers without giving details of how the withdrawn amounts were spent.
“They were like bank robbers with badges,” said Dennis Fitzgerald, an attorney and former Drug Enforcement Administration agent who taught undercover tactics for the U.S. State Department. “It had no law enforcement objective. The objective was to make money.”
Instead of the operation strengthening the fight against illegal drug businesses, it actually weakened it; ending up interfering with ongoing investigations against some known drug lords and money launderers.
The operation started falling apart when the feds busted the Bal Harbour PD and Miami-Herald busted more money initially not detected by the feds.
Such acts have pushed many to ask whether it’s going to be possible to win the fight against drug cartels if the officers charged with busting them and bringing them to book are the same ones benefiting from their blood money.