Federal authorities on Thursday indicted a Miami police sergeant on charges alleging that he planted cocaine on a suspect, stole drugs and money from dealers, and lied to federal investigators.
Raul Iglesias is expected to surrender and appear before a federal judge on Friday.
Iglesias, 40, was indicted on nine counts that include violating suspects’ civil rights, conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, obstruction of justice and making false statements, according to a press release from the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami.
An 18-year Miami police veteran, Iglesias ran the Central District’s Crime Suppression unit, which targeted drug traffickers. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
“Any time a member of law enforcement stands accused of running afoul of the law that he or she has sworn to uphold, it is both disappointing and disheartening,’’ Maj. Delrish Moss, a department spokesman, said in a statement.
Facing community criticism of the department’s tactical units, Police Chief Manuel Orosa, since taking over from former Chief Miguel Exposito last fall, has reduced the size of the department’s crime suppression units and added more supervision, Moss said.
Iglesias’ indictment was not unexpected. He has been suspended without pay since 2010, and one of his former detectives, Roberto Asanza, was arrested, pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate against him.
Asanza was busted in June 2011. A year earlier, FBI agents had detained him, seizing 10 bags of cocaine and two bags of marijuana stolen from a window-tinting shop in Allapattah.
According to court documents, Asanza told agents that he and Iglesias used some of the stolen cocaine to pay off the confidential informant who had tipped them off to the drugs at the tint shop.
“Asanza admitted that he knew it was wrong to give drugs to the CI, but that he was trying to build a rapport with the CI,” stated a criminal complaint for his arrest.
Ultimately, Asanza pleaded guilty to minor drug charges and received one year of probation, federal court records show. He also gave up his law enforcement certification.
Iglesias’s defense attorney, Rick Diaz, said Thursday that his client is innocent.
“We’re looking forward to trying this case in front of a jury,” Diaz said. “It’s a sad day when the U.S. attorney’s office is relying upon criminals to go after the good name and reputation of men such as Sgt. Raul Iglesias.”
According to the indictment, agents pinpointed at least four dates in early 2010 when Iglesias allegedly stole or planted drugs, or lied to investigators.
On Jan. 27, 2010, Iglesias ordered two of his officers to search a man identified in court documents only as “R.H.” When no drugs were found, Iglesias allegedly asked his officers for some “throw-down dope” to plant on the man.
A third officer, identified only as “R.M.,” gave him the drugs and the man was arrested, according to the indictment.
On April 8, 2010, Iglesias stole “money and property” from someone identified only as “C.R.,” the indictment alleges.
Then on May 5, 2010, he is alleged to have stolen marijuana and cocaine from the Allapattah tint shop. Twenty days later, the indictment alleges, Iglesias lied to investigators when he claimed he did not know how much money was in a box seized that day as well.
Iglesias also “represented that he did not steal any drugs or money from arrest subjects when in truth and fact … the defendant did steal drugs and money from arrest subjects,” the indictment said.
Moss, pointing out that the prosecution is based on 2010 events, said the case “is in no way a reflection’’ of other Miami officers.