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Saturday, November 1, 2008

NYPD Cop Part of Cocaine Robbery Ring

NYPD cop Jorge Arbaje-Diaz arrested on charges he was part of cocaine robbery crew
The New York Daily News by JOHN MARZULLI, SCOTT SHIFREL and ALISON GENDAR - November 1st 2008

An NYPD cop betrayed his badge by working for a gang that stole $20 million in cocaine from drug dealers and resold it on the streets, authorities said Friday. Police Officer Jorge Arbaje-Diaz was on duty - and in full uniform with gun, badge and handcuffs - when he shook down dealers for cash and dope in at least one of the robberies, prosecutors said. The 30-year-old officer stood quietly as he was charged in Brooklyn Federal Court for his role in at least 100 robberies along the East Coast, authorities said. He faces life in prison, if convicted. "The crimes...are a slap in the face to the vast majority of law enforcement officers who are dedicated to upholding the law," Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent John Gilbride said. Arbaje-Diaz, known to his coconspirators as "Shorty," was named along with Felix Rodriguez, 31, and Alfredo Antonio Acosta, 34, in the superseding indictment unsealed Friday. Arbaje-Diaz joined the NYPD in 2005. The NYPD is investigating his application to see if officials missed any red flags because his ties to the robbery crew predate him joining the department. "This is a despicable action on the part of this individual," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. "It is the highest form of betrayal." The married father of two bragged about his love of money - and his job with the NYPD - on his Facebook page. Appropriately enough his favorite movies were about drugs, "Scarface," and corrupt cops, "American Gangster." His taste in TV runs to "Law & Order." His wife wept in the courtroom as the indictment was read. His Yonkers neighbors said they had no idea the basketball-loving dad was a cop, let alone an accused robber. The story of the crooked cop and the violent stickup gang was first reported Oct. 13 in the Daily News.

Arbaje-Diaz and an unidentified retired NYPD officer were fingered as part of the violent gang. The retired officer is still under investigation. The crew held some victims' heads underwater to shake loose information about drugs, or threatened to squeeze their testicles with pliers. Authorities believe the crew netted more than $200,000 worth of drugs and thousands in cash from the runs Arbaje-Diaz took part in. "He sold out," a police source said of Diaz. "And worse, he put drugs back on the street instead of taking them off." Prosecutors said the crooks wore flak jackets and flashed badges, occasionally pulling their victims' cars over in police-style traffic stops complete with lights and sirens. They carefully picked their victims and stole some 750 kilos of cocaine - worth $20 million - and $4 million in cash. Investigators recovered over 70 kilos of coke and 20 guns. Most of the attacks occurred in Queens, the Bronx and upper Manhattan. Cops said the ring also targeted dealers in Florida, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. With Veronika Belenkaya and Dorian Block

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