Florida Defers to U.S. Indictments on Cases Involving Miami Police
Seven suspended or former Miami police officers used their police jobs to run a drug operation that resorted to murder, threats and bribery, according to a federal indictment that was unsealed Friday.
State prosecutors said that they are dropping first-degree murder and other charges that had been filed against three of the officers. The 21-count, federal racketeering indictment accuses four of the defendants of five civil-rights violations, including the killings.
The indictment names four people who were slain. They were the three reputed cocaine smugglers who drowned last July 28 when police allegedly forced them into the Miami River during a cocaine ripoff, and a man whose body was found in a dump last August.
Attorney Roy Black, representing Officer Roman Rodriguez, said the state’s decision to drop its murder charges against Rodriguez, Armando Estrada and Armando Garcia showed that there was “tremendous weakness” in the state’s cases.
Trudi Novicki, one of two Dade County assistant state attorneys acting as special assistant U.S. attorneys for the case, said prosecutors decided that the investigation was becoming too complex and that for several reasons, including protection of witnesses, it would be better to concentrate on the federal case.
The maximum penalty for violation of civil rights by murder is life in prison. The civil-rights counts are against Rodriguez, Estrada, Rodolfo Arias and Arturo de la Vega.
The seven officers were charged after police and federal investigations resulted in criminal or administrative charges against at least 30 of Miami’s 1,050-member police force.