A Bakersfield police detective was arrested Friday on suspicion of conspiring with a narcotics dealer in a methamphetamine distribution operation, federal officials said.
Damacio Diaz, 43, of McFarland, is named in a 16-count indictment accusing him of tipping off the dealer to police investigations, intelligence details and information about law enforcement practices in exchange for bribes, according to federal officials. Diaz is on paid administrative leave from his job.
“When a police officer misuses his badge to commit crimes for personal profit, it is the ultimate betrayal of public trust,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said in a statement.
At the time of the crimes, Diaz was working with the Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force and the Southern Tri-County Task Force of the Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and had access to sensitive undercover information, according to the indictment. He oversaw use of payments for informants he used to buy narcotics from drug dealers.
His job gave him access to the names and identities of police informants, which federal prosecutors said he revealed to a convicted felon involved in drug trafficking. Diaz used his position to try to dissuade narcotics investigators from searching the drug dealer’s home and from arresting him, according to the indictment.
The drug dealer was not named as a defendant in the case.
Diaz’s attorney has not responded to requests for comment.
Diaz kept money that was intended for the purchase of narcotics during an investigation, and instead used the cash for his own personal use, prosecutors said.
According to the indictment, the dealer directed Diaz to purchase two untraceable cellphones so the detective could use them to discuss illegal activity with him. In one 2012 incident, the indictment alleges, Diaz was supposed to book into evidence one pound of methamphetamine recovered in a traffic stop but instead kept a portion of it “for his own personal gain.”
From April 2012 to February, Diaz accepted more than $5,000 in bribes per year from the drug dealer, prosecutors allege. He is also charged with filing false tax returns.
“No one is above the law. The alleged criminal activity put law enforcement officers at grave risk and significantly undermines public trust in law enforcement,” Monica M. Miller, the FBI’s special agent in charge in Sacramento, said in a statement.
Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Williamson said he was “deeply disappointed” in Diaz’s arrest.
If Diaz is convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to federal prosecutors.
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