Inglewood police officer arrested, faces federal drug trafficking charges


A veteran Inglewood police officer and a man once approved to be his confidential informant are facing federal drug trafficking charges, according to court documents unsealed on Friday.

John Abel Baca, a 45-year-old Whittier resident and a 21-year veteran of the Inglewood Police Department, was arrested Oct. 21 after a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment charging him with distribution of cocaine, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Central District of California.

Baca’s case was unsealed Friday after his alleged accomplice, 42-year-old South Los Angeles resident Gerardo Ekonomo, was arrested, prosecutors said.


FBI agents carried out a search warrant Thursday at Ekonomo’s home, where they seized drugs buried in his yard, a gun and ammunition inside the residence, prosecutors said.

In all, authorities found over a kilogram of heroin and more than a half-kilogram of suspected cocaine at Ekonomo’s residence, prosecutors said. A kilogram is about 2.2 pounds.

He was named in a criminal complaint filed Friday that charges him with possession with intent to distribute heroin, prosecutors said. Ekonomo is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles on Monday.

According to the indictment, Baca knowingly distributed cocaine on April 29 in Orange County.

The veteran police officer, who also served as a police union representative, allegedly delivered cocaine to a person who was cooperating with law enforcement, prosecutors said.

“Baca allegedly delivered approximately one kilogram of cocaine to the same cooperating witness during another meeting on May 4, in exchange for $22,000 in cash,” prosecutors said.


The officer got approval for Ekonomo to work as a confidential source five years ago, but investigators couldn’t find any evidence that Ekonomo was ever signed up as an informant, according to an affidavit.

The document noted that Ekonomo was arrested by North Las Vegas police officers on June 16 after they found 3 kilograms of heroin in his vehicle.

On July 13, Baca contacted an officer in that department to ask about Ekonomo’s status and whether he could “work off” the case by cooperating, according to the affidavit.

According to the affidavit, Baca’s alleged intervention in that case shows that he is willing to abuse his position as a police officer to advance his drug trafficking activities and help his accomplices.

The North Las Vegas charges against Ekonomo were not dropped and remain pending, authorities said.

Baca’s trial is scheduled for Dec. 14 in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, prosecutors said.


If convicted as charged in the indictment, he faces a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence and a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison.

Ekonomo faces a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum life sentence if convicted as charged, prosecutors said.

Further information about the case was not available on Friday.

A representative of the Inglewood Police Department did not respond to multiple phone calls or emailed questions regarding Baca’s status.