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Monday, November 21, 2011

Police Captain Denied Bail in Federal Drug-Trafficking Case

Police capt. denied bond in federal court
WSVN - November 19, 2011

MIAMI (WSVN) -- A police officer accused of covering up a crime appeared in federal court Friday and was denied bond. During the hearing, as the indictment against Opa-Locka Police Captain Arthur Balom, 44, and seven others was unsealed, new disturbing details came to light about Balom's alleged role in a deadly armored car ambush. A federal judge denied Balom's bond, saying he poses a danger to the community. Defense Attorney Michael Cornley said, "I'm a little disappointed the court did not release him today. I think he is a fine man. I think a lot of these charges are a result of him not totally cooperating with the federal government." A two-year investigation ended the Police Captain cuffed. He and several other men were placed in handcuffs Thursday for allegedly being involved in a drug ring. The FBI carried out evidence from the Opa-Locka Police Department, including the captain's personnel file. North Miami Beach City Manager Bryan Finnie said, "Today is a sad day for the City of Opa-Locka. As you know, it appears that one of our officers was indicted and arrested on conspiracy charges. The investigation was conducted by the FBI, and we are shocked and dismayed and very concerned about the outcome." But the alleged corruption does not stop there. Some members of this alleged drug ring were already arrested, accused of taking part in a Brinks armored truck robbery in Miramar last year, including accused ring-leader Toriano Johnson. In that robbery, 48-year-old Alejandro Arencibia was shot and killed. In federal court Friday, the U.S. District attorney's office claimed Balom not only aided and abetted drug deals, but that he also provided Johnson, his friend and partner in crime, information that helped Johnson elude police for more than a year. Possibly most shocking, the prosecution claims, Balom sold several bulletproof vests to Toriano, one of which may have been used during the armored truck heist. Balom's family left federal court after hearing that he will remain behind bars until his trial. Balom's attorney said his client was only doing his job. "The evidence is going to show that, at one time, he was involved in a crime task force, and he was asked, asked to have contact with these people." The prosecution says this is only the first wave of indictments and more arrests are coming. Balom will be back in federal court on Nov. 28 for his arraignment.


Opa-locka officer arrested in drug-trafficking case
The Miami Herald by Michael Vasquez - November 18, 2011

Federal prosecutors on Thursday announced criminal charges against eight men allegedly running an Opa-locka drug-dealing ring — and one of the accused is a longtime Opa-locka police officer. Capt. Arthur Balom, a 12-year veteran of the department, was among those charged in the four-count federal indictment. Balom, along with the seven other defendants, faces various counts of drug distribution and conspiracy to distribute narcotics. The drug ring distributed cocaine, Ecstasy, and Oxycodone, according to prosecutors. The charges are the culmination of a two-year multi-agency investigation. If convicted, the defendants face up to 40 years in prison, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In that statement, U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer called drug trafficking “a scourge on our communities.” “Its effects are even worse when, as in this case, we find police officers, who are sworn to protect and serve our community, instead abuse the public trust and engage in drug trafficking to line their pockets,” Ferrer said. Balom, who lives in Miramar, is accused of using his position to help the drug-trafficking organization, though the specifics of this allegation were unclear late Thursday. Balom and the other defendants are scheduled to make their initial court appearance Friday. “We’re just shocked and dismayed,” Opa-locka City Manager Bryan Finnie said. Finnie said FBI investigators visited Opa-locka police headquarters Thursday to view Balom’s personnel file. The other defendants charged in the indictment are Toriano Johnson, 36, of Opa-locka; Terrence Johnson, 38, of Miramar; Dwayne Miller, 27, of Opa-locka; Jermaine Parrish, 29, of Miami; Antwan Davis, 29, of Miami; Lawrence Benbow, 35, of Miami Gardens; and Justin Jean, 27, of Opa-locka. Although not outlined in the indictment information released by prosecutors on Thursday, Miami Herald news partner CBS4 reported that Balom may have also been involved with last year’s robbery of a Brinks armored truck in Miramar — a robbery in which one Brinks guard was killed. CBS4 reported that Balom allegedly provided the robbers with assistance.

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