Law enforcement

The Miami Beach cop and the meth dealers: a tawdry tale

 

When officer George Navarro Jr.’s drug-dealer pals got busted, they started talking to authorities about Navarro. Now he may be in a lot of trouble.

dovalle@MiamiHerald.com

While other cops strived for the big bust or sergeant’s stripes, George Navarro Jr. had other aspirations. The Miami Beach patrolman yearned for the ultimate score, his friends told investigators: to engineer an epic drug deal, one that would make him rich and allow him to leave law enforcement behind.

They called it the “Coke Dream.”

That dream is dead now, as may be Navarro’s police career. He was suspended last September without pay after being charged with racketeering and fraud in connection with a scheme to use phony paperwork to acquire luxury cars.

But that might be just the beginning of Navarro’s troubles. Although for now he hasn’t been charged with anything else, the investigation into his actions has produced reams of damning documents detailing bungled trips to the Bahamas to buy kilos of coke, the rip-off of a suspected marijuana grow house, drunken brawls, a botched attempt to collect a drug debt and — perhaps most strikingly — his penchant for lending his police car, uniforms and other gear to meth-dealer pals.

If nothing else, the investigation of George Navarro Jr. inflicts another black eye on the beleaguered Miami Beach Police Department, battered in recent years by stories of lax discipline and criminal misbehavior.

The mud is being splattered in many directions, onto other officers and other agencies, spawning a slew of investigations.

For instance, the U.S. Coast Guard is probing one of its own for allegedly providing detailed locations of cutters near the Bahamas to help Navarro avoid detection while at sea.

Authorities are also examining the role of Navarro, 27, and his father — once a high-level Miami Beach police commander, now retired — in a secret and illegal recording made by the younger officer’s drug-dealing former roommate as he was being grilled by internal affairs detectives.

Michael Band, attorney for Navarro Jr., said the allegations are nothing more than the “spouting of a Judas.”

That “Judas” would be Marlon Mayoli, a childhood friend of Navarro. Mayoli and another drug dealer, Rafael Guedes, both 27, have been talking quite a bit to state and federal agents, presumably in hopes of trimming some years off their prison sentences.

“What was George’s crime?” asked Band. “He made the mistake of being too loyal of a friend, and exercising poor judgment in friendship.”

Mayoli and Guedes pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession of a firearm while drug trafficking. (The federal probe also led to the indictment of former Boynton Beach Officer David Britto, who has since fled to Brazil.)

Mayoli is serving 15 years in prison, Guedes 14.

Ronald J. Manto, attorney for Mayoli, insisted his client is telling the truth.

“Mayoli accepted responsibility for his participation … He cooperated with the authorities and was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. It appears that the investigation is ongoing but much of what Mayoli told police has been corroborated by other sources and evidence. I believe it’s just a matter of time before the other shoe drops.”

The investigation into Navarro Jr. began in March 2011 when the feds raided Guedes’ and Mayoli’s Miami apartment. Inside, they found ecstasy, crystal meth — and, curiously, Navarro’s police uniforms.

Guedes was immediately arrested for trafficking. Agents were stunned when Navarro appeared at Guedes’ federal court hearing, asking for his uniforms back.

A plan backfires

Navarro, agents later learned, hoped to stave off an internal affairs probe by approaching directly the Drug Enforcement Administration agents involved in the arrest of his buddy.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Miami-Dade’s public corruption unit and Miami Beach Internal Affairs detectives nevertheless started digging.

A neighbor and a valet at the Miami condo told investigators Mayoli often drove a Miami Beach police car while wearing a badge and a bulletproof vest.

When Miami Beach detectives pulled Mayoli in for an interview, it was George Jr. who drove him to the internal affairs office that day, investigators noted. Mayoli, in a later debriefing, claimed the elder Navarro instructed him to “deny everything.”

What’s more, Mayoli said, the Navarros instructed him to record detectives’ questions — apparently so the Navarros could gauge how much internal affairs knew — using a BlackBerry recording program, he said.

Mayoli said Navarro Jr. later downloaded the recording to his computer, while his father copied the file onto a thumb drive he hung around his neck.

It is generally a third-degree felony to record someone without their permission. Exactly what was recorded on the BlackBerry is unknown because portions of the report are redacted. The FBI investigated the episode, but did not pursue charges.

Band, attorney for both Navarros, insists Mayoli made the recording on his own. “We were very surprised that he did it,” Band said.

After a federal grand jury indicted Mayoli in April 2011, agents arrested him — at Navarro’s Southwest Miami-Dade house. He was nabbed when he arrived back at the house behind the wheel of Navarro’s cop car.

As for Guedes, he’s the one who described to agents how he, Mayoli and Navarro had dubbed their foray into drug smuggling the “Coke Dream.”

Sorry, wrong city

In early 2010, Guedes told agents, he gave Navarro at least $1,500 to send to Mayoli in Colombia to buy a kilo of cocaine. Alas, Mayoli flew to the wrong city.

Band said Navarro wired him the money only as “pocket change” after Mayoli overstayed his visa and was fined by Colombian authorities.

The men then allegedly turned their attention to the Bahamas.

Guedes told agents that he financed the first trip to the Bahamas in September 2010, to the tune of $40,000 cash. Navarro kicked in another $10,000.

The plan: to bring in cocaine from the Bahamas by boat and load it into Navarro’s police car, left parked at Dinner Key Marina, so the package could be safely transferred.

Navarro told Guedes “that if this deal went through he would leave the force.”

According to Mayoli, they sailed to Bimini on a borrowed 42-foot boat, the Touch of Class. On the island, as one of their confederates met with a drug contact, Mayoli and Navarro swam in the ocean. A small shark attacked them.

Their cohort, identified in the records only as “Fernandez,” returned empty-handed. In the end, that may have been just as well. On their way back to the United States, the U.S. Coast Guard stopped the boat. Navarro identified himself as a cop. They were warned for having an expired flare gun.

That same month, Mayoli and Navarro traveled by plane to Nassau, where they arranged a deal to buy two kilos of cocaine for $30,000, plus transport seven more to Miami, the investigative documents say. The drugs were to be stored in a cooler with a fake bottom.

One month later, Mayoli and Navarro — packing an AR15 rifle, two pistols and a bulletproof vest — returned to the Bahamas by boat to consummate the deal, the reports say.

However, their boat’s propeller hit shore rocks, forcing the pair to pay for repairs. That left them short of the amount needed to complete the deal.

Empty-handed again

Mayoli said they agreed instead to smuggle five Dominicans to Miami for extra cash. But even that fell through. With a storm gathering, the boat captain left the islands abruptly as Navarro and Mayoli brushed their teeth in a cabin. Again, they came away empty-handed.

Band said the trip to the Bahamas was nothing more than a failed stab at reselling American-bought clothing on the island. “Mayoli has a vivid imagination,” he said.

The probe into the Bahamas trip also ensnared U.S. Coast Guard boatswain’s mate Robert Sarduy Jr., another Navarro pal. According to an agent’s report, investigators discovered he gave Navarro “specific details of the locations of U.S. Coast Guard cutters … entering U.S. waters from the Bahamas.”

Whether Sarduy is still on duty could not be determined. The Coast Guard is investigating, agency spokeswoman Marilyn Fajardo said.

In interviews with law officers, included in the hundreds of pages released by the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office, Mayoli and Guedes related other stories of alleged wrongdoing:

• After Guedes’ arrest in March 2011, Mayoli claimed he and Navarro went to a Biscayne Boulevard storage unit and destroyed the contents of Guedes’ meth lab.

• In December 2010, Mayoli and Navarro burglarized a suspected West Miami-Dade marijuana grow house. Their only haul: an Apple Mac Pro, several watches and three Louis Vuitton bags.

• In late 2010, Mayoli, Guedes and Navarro went to a Miami condo to collect a drug debt for Guedes. Navarro angrily berated two bewildered Spanish-speaking women before realizing they had visited the wrong apartment. A year later, Miami-Dade Detective John Loyal and Miami Beach Sgt. Osvaldo Ramos flew to Puerto Rico and interviewed one of the women, who corroborated the story, according to documents.

• Navarro and Miami Beach Officer Grant Reid had a falling out after Navarro allegedly had a drunken tryst with Reid’s girlfriend. Mayoli said that Navarro, inebriated and stewing, aimed his gun at a carload of “gang members” and pulled the trigger. The clip was empty because Mayoli had removed the bullets.

The probe also generated an ongoing investigation into Reid, whose now ex-girlfriend, Miami Officer Stephanie Rodriguez, told cops that Reid forged her signature to cash checks in her name. Rodriguez later text-messaged a detective that “she was having second thoughts about pursuing the allegations.”

• Mayoli claimed that in 2009, an officer — whose name is redacted from reports — accepted several vials of steroids and $2,500 in cash as a payoff in exchange for not arresting Guedes. Mayoli also claimed that, after he was ticketed for driving a Lamborghini recklessly in upstate Florida, an unnamed female prosecutor called a counterpart in Central Florida to get the charge dropped. The prosecutor was dating a Miami Beach cop.

Read more Miami-Dade stories from the Miami Herald

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