Sticky Blue Fingers: Miami Dade Narc Caught $tealing From Undercover Officer
Apr. 4, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — While a Miami Dade narcotics detective was being investigated for on-duty shenanigans, another detective was nabbed and accused of taking money from a suspect who turned out to be an undercover agent. Talk about unintended, but welcome, consequences. David Ovalle from the Miami Herald reports:
In what seemed a routine and unremarkable case, a squad of Miami-Dade narcotics detectives busted a drug dealer holed up in a shabby Homestead motel, seizing more than $16,000 in cash and two pounds of marijuana stuffed in a red gym bag. What the squad didn’t know: that dealer was no criminal.
He was actually an undercover officer posing as a doper in an elaborate sting designed to catch a suspected rogue narcotics detective named Edwin Diaz. But the carefully crafted operation last month took a surprise turn for investigators when $1,300 of the cash was taken — by a different officer.
The officer who supposedly took the loot is Miami-Dade Narcotics Detective Armando Socarras, and all this began when internal affairs was investigating another narcotics detective, Edwin Diaz. You see, this is one of those rare cases in which internal affairs went as far as asking a judge to authorize the tracking of Diaz’s department-issued unmarked truck, in tandem with investigators from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Why? Miami PD and prosecutors were sick of getting complaints against Diaz, alleging thievery on his part:
Misgivings about Diaz had been swirling for years, including at least six complaints of theft from suspects since April 2007, according to court records.
Diaz arrested a man named Nelson Castineira for marijuana possession in June 2009. Castineira later complained that three watches valued at $3,800 were missing. Records showed that the narcotics detectives had not impounded the watches.
In another case, a Miami man arrested for keeping a marijuana grow-house complained that more than $15,000 vanished from a safe that Diaz had searched, the records show.
And so it goes. Investigators used a real drug dealer to act as a double agent against Diaz by providing him with “tips” on where he could find perps with drugs and cash. After a brief detective and chivato courtship, Diaz begins to trust the state informant. Diaz was told of a drug dealer who would be at a hotel on February 25 with drugs and money. Diaz and Socarras showed up at the hotel, which was under close surveillance. They arrested the “dealer,” who was actually an undercover officer, and the money they impounded was $1,300 less than what had been planted by investigators. Oops.
The outstanding cash was found in Socarras’ car, and his excuse (the first one, a least) must have left the interviewing officer’s intelligence insulted:
In an interview with police, a flustered Socarras claimed the wad of money must have been left behind in a red gym bag and he picked it up. He admitted that he did not take the cash to the property room.
“So within that time frame, you totally forgot about this large amount of roll of cash,” internal affairs Sgt. Matthew Fryer asked him.
“Yes, I’m so sorry,” he said, adding later: “Completely slipped my mind.”
It’s enough to make a cat laugh. His second explanation is more sincere, although his motive may indicate that he is aware of the prevalence of debtor’s prisons in the U.S.:
When I was debating it, you know, I thought about, you know, my fiancée is unemployed, and we’re struggling, and mainly for my kid’s daycare, which is $170 a week, and I pay the mortgage.
I guess he just couldn’t take that second job in the local nightclub as a street tough bouncer.
Socarras is charged with a felony grand theft, and defense attorneys are looking through their files to see whether Diaz or Socarras appear in the State’s discovery, as this incident has dealt a major blow to their credibility as State’s witnesses.
Judging from the pattern of misconduct and illegality that has plagued his police brethren across south Florida, Socarras would get no kind words from Walter Sobchak. South Florida officers have recently been implicated in laundering millions of dollars for foreign drug syndicates and then keeping millions for themselves, punching handcuffed people in the face just because they can, stealing guns and cash from evidence rooms, providing protection to drug dealers, and enticing foreigners to come to south Florida so they can buy kilos of cocaine from the local police at strip malls. One cannot accuse them of not diversifying their means of getting a few extra bucks on the side.
But then, this post really must conclude with the language that adorns each press release from the Department of Justice, following the detailed description of the allegations:
The charge filed against Socarras merely alleges that a crime has been committed, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.