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FBI: Local cops provided muscle for drug dealers

Wednesday, December 03, 2008
SouthtownStar
by Kim Janssen

The biggest police corruption bust in recent Illinois history saw 15 police officers charged Tuesday with conspiring to commit a series of major heroin and cocaine deals at locations throughout the south suburbs.

An undercover FBI sting two years in the making - centered on the town of Harvey - allegedly saw crooked officers agree to provide muscle for what they believed were a dozen large-scale drug deals, including deals in the parking lots of chain restaurants, stores and hotels in Tinley Park, Oak Lawn, Matteson and Homewood.

On one occasion, Harvey detective Archie Stallworth, who allegedly took $1,000 in cash to supervise a drug deal, was recorded giving an undercover agent posing as a strip club worker advice on how to elude capture. He told the agent to avoid fast food restaurants for deals because "that's where (police) be looking."

On another, two crooked Cook County correctional officers allegedly boarded a six-passenger, twin propeller aircraft at west suburban DuPage airport, and began counting what they believed was 80 kilograms of cocaine stuffed in four duffel bags, which they then placed in a waiting Mercedes.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said the charges filed Tuesday against 10 Cook County Sheriff's correctional officers, four Harvey cops and one Chicago police officer proved authorities were determined to tackle corruption "wherever we find it - not just at the state and federal level but also in the suburbs."

The investigation was "ongoing" and could yet see others charged, he said.

All 13 officers who appeared before Federal Judge Michael Mason Tuesday afternoon were freed without bail, as were two other men who are not employed as police officers were also charged.

Two of the correctional officers charged - Ahyetoro Taylor and Jermaine Bell - are serving with the Illinois National Guard in Afghanistan, Fitzgerald said.

They have been detained by the military and will be returned to Chicago to face trial, Chicago FBI chief Robert Grant said.

The undercover operation began in early 2007 and was a reaction to a series of complaints from the public about police corruption in Harvey and the south suburbs, according to court papers.

An undercover FBI agent set up a business in Harvey, hoping to identify corrupt cops, the court papers say.

Two sheriff's officers he met soon after, Taylor and Raphael Manuel, sold drugs to agents and provided security for deals in the parking lot at Target, 17601 South Halsted St., Homewood on Aug. 1, 2007, the documents allege.

They met up at an Applebee's restaurant before they again acted as security for a set-up deal at the Holiday Inn at the intersection of 183rd Street and Harlem Avenue, Tinley Park, on Aug. 22, 2007, then helped recruit other corrupt cops for a series of other deals, the papers allege.

Taylor boasted that he had a Sig-Sauer handgun and other weapons, while Manuel reassured undercover agents, "We know how to politic with the local authorities in case they try to stick their nose in."

On another occasion, Manuel told agents that the county motto was "They pay us for what we might have to do, not for what we do."

Harvey cops Antoine Dudley and Dwayne Williams took $400 each to oversee a deal at the Oak Lawn Hilton Hotel on Aug. 29, 2007, while Williams allegedly also took cash to provide police protection to a high-stakes poker game staged by the FBI, the papers say.

And according to the court documents, a fourth Harvey cop, James Engram, told agents "I ain't always been in law enforcement ... So I know about other dealers watching. I use my street knowledge."

A man posing as a Posen cop, Tavis Ramsey, Chicago Police officer Kyle Wilson, Manuel and Taylor also were involved in a deal for 25 kilos of cocaine at Cracker Barrel restaurant, 18531 North Creek Drive, Tinley Park, Oct. 24, 2007, it is alleged.

Sheriff's officers Diallo Mingo, Daniel Lee, Julius Scott, Robert Kelly, Richard Hall and Antwon Funches, and Harvey resident Antonio McCaskill were also charged.

All the charged men face a minimum of 10 years behind bars if convicted.



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