The Miami Herald by David Smiley - April 12, 2012
Miami Beach police are concerned that one or more of their own may have provided “protection” for cocaine drops staged by undercover federal agents. Recorded statements and details laid out by the FBI in a criminal complaint against Miami Beach fire inspector Henry Bryant allude to illicit relationships between Bryant and Miami Beach officers, and raise questions about whether department officers escorted Bryant through city limits while he carried kilograms of “sham” cocaine. “I’m concerned of any allegation or impression that a Miami Beach police officer would do that,” Police Chief Raymond Martinez said Thursday. “We’re certainly going to be working with the FBI to follow up on any information they may have.” Martinez and federal agents have talked about meeting early next week. The FBI and local authorities arrested Bryant, a second Miami Beach fire inspector and five city code compliance officers Wednesday. The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office accused the Beach employees of extorting an unnamed South Beach nightclub owner out of $25,000 over several months. In return, agents said the employees allowed the club to avoid inspections and stay open despite hefty tax debts. Authorities also arrested Miami-Dade Police Officer Daniel Mack and said he and Bryant were paid $25,000 to transport duffel bags of fake cocaine for undercover agents posing in the club as drug dealers. No Miami Beach officers have been arrested.
Bryant allegedly boasted about his contacts with as many as four Miami Beach officers and four Miami-Dade County officers, court records show. He also told agents he would transport cocaine with unmarked Miami Beach police escorts within city limits — he said department cruisers were marked with GPS — and Miami-Dade County police escorts through the rest of the county, according to court records. Sgt. Alejandro Bello, president of the city’s police union, said the details in Bryant’s criminal complaint raise a number of questions. “Was he being truthful?” Bello said. “Should we be concerned? Are they looking at other police officers? Or were they just friends who didn’t know what was going on?” An FBI spokesman said he could not elaborate on details in the criminal complaint. According to court records, Bryant transported a duffel bag stuffed with kilograms of fake cocaine from South Beach to North Dade on Dec. 21 and on Jan 14. During the first run, court records say an unmarked, gold four-door sedan “appeared to be following Bryant” in Miami Beach before Mack picked up the escort outside city limits. During the second run, agents say Bryant met them at the club and introduced them to an “identified police officer” after they asked about the whereabouts of his “other associate.” Court records don’t name the officer or his department, but say he escorted Bryant in his personal black Chevrolet Impala from South Beach to the 62nd Street exit of Interstate 95, where Mack began tailing the fire inspector. “That’s part of what we’ll be meeting with the FBI and working on follow-up information about,” Martinez said. “I don’t know if from that complaint that police officer is a Miami Beach police officer or from another department.” The investigation remains open. Said Martinez: “We have a lot of questions.”