A Miami police officer was arrested by the FBI on Thursday and charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana he had stolen from a drug dealer last year.
Roberto Asanza, 31, of Miami, a six-year veteran of the force, was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, reports Jay Weaver at the Miami Herald
. Asanza, a Marine veteran and 1998 graduate of Coral Park High, was released on a personal surety bond after his first appearance in federal court on Thursday.
Asanza faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. His lawyer — an assistant federal public defender named Kashyap Patel — declined to comment.
Asanza and other Crime Suppression Unit members arrested a man identified as “L.R.” at an Allapattah, Florida window-tinting shop in early May of last year, and seized numerous bags of cocaine and marijuana, according to an FBI affidavit.
However, those drugs never found their way to the evidence room, reports Kyle Munzenrieder at Miami New Times
When FBI agents stopped Asanza’s police cruiser a few weeks later, they found 10 bags of cocaine and two of marijuana, which were part of the same drug stash taken from the Allapattah drug dealer, the affidavit said.
Miami police are assisting the FBI in the investigation, which also involves Asanza’s supervisor.
In January 2010, Asanza and another Miami police officer, identified as “R.I.” in the affidavit, recruited a confidential informant to work undercover. R.I. is Raul Iglesias, 38, a Miami police sergeant who was in charge of the Central District’s Crime Suppression Unit before he was suspended with pay following the FBI’s stop of Asanza’s vehicle, according to sources.
Sixteen-year veteran Iglesias has not been charged but is under investigation, sources said.
His lawyer, William Matthewman, claimed Iglesias is an “excellent police officer who has done absolutely nothing wrong. It is unfortunate that his name is being raised in this context.”
The confidential informant tipped off R.I. and Asanza about the dealer who sold drugs at the Allapattah tint shop. On May 5, 2010, Iglesias, Asanza and other CSU members arrested L.R. at the tint shop and seized the drugs.
Around three weeks later, FBI agents interrogated Asanza. He let them search his truck, where they found the drugs. Asanza admitted to the agents that the drugs were taken from the tint shop dealer after his arrest.
In October, Asanza admitted to FBI agents that both he and Iglesias “took custody of the drugs and money” from the tint shop dealer, according to the affidavit. Asanza also admitted that he “paid” the informant numerous times with “one or two bags” of cocaine seized from the dealer.
“Asanza admitted that he knew it was wrong to give drugs to the CI [confidential informant], but that he was trying to build a rapport with the CI,” the affidavit said.
After the dealer’s arrest, the confidential informant said that Iglesias paid him $40 for his services. The informant said he signed a receipt for it, which is department policy.
Asanza then said, “Hook [the CI] up some,” according to the affidavit.
Iglesias then handed the informant $80 — cash found at the tint shop — along with two bags of cocaine, according to the affidavit.