Ten metro Atlanta police officers arrested for allegedly protecting cocaine traffickers (Update)

Officers were involved in "multiple drug transactions" where they "took thousands in drug payoffs"


Federal agents have arrested ten police officers who worked in the metro Atlanta area for their alleged involvement in "multiple drug transactions" where they "took thousands in drug payoffs." Five civilians were also apprehended as the result of a yearlong undercover operation investigating public corruption.

At a press conference this afternoon, United States Attorney Sally Yates said that officers were charged with a range of offenses. Officers involved worked for a number of police departments, including Atlanta, Forest Park, DeKalb County, Stone Mountain, MARTA, and the DeKalb Sheriff's Office.

Atlanta Police spokesman Carlos Campos said in a statement that Senior Police Officer Kelvin Allen was a 20-year veteran who recently patrolled in Zone 6.

"The revelation of an Atlanta Police officer's alleged involvement in a federal drug trafficking sting is disturbing, said Campos. "The Department has been, and will continue to be, cooperative with federal authorities to ensure that Atlanta Police officers involved in any illegal activity are brought to justice. Officers are held to the highest levels of accountability, and this alleged conduct violates our standards."

MARTA Officer Marquez Holmes had served with the transit agency's police department for a decade. Spokeswoman Cara Hodgson added that MARTA "will not tolerate corruption in its ranks" and will fully cooperate with the U.S. Attorney's investigation.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives worked together throughout this operation, which began as they looked into a local street gang's drug trafficking. Agents uncovered the corruption early in the case and proceeded to follow police who were offering protection, security, and vehicle escorts for large cocaine transactions. Yates said payoffs were as high as $7,000.

She also went on to describe accounts of "dirty cops" who wore their uniforms, drove patrol cars, and carried their issued firearms while assisting in drug transactions. The officers involved were a combination of men and women, some of whom ranked "as high as sergeant." She added that the civilians arrested today served as middlemen who in some cases helped recruit the police officers.

In addition, she called the corruption "very disturbing" and "abhorrent," but insisted that it was not symbolic of the way thousands of other honest cops in the metro area conduct their work.

Earlier today, WSB-TV reporter Mark Winne said that suspects were brought to the FBI's Atlanta field office in handcuffs this morning. He added that this case may very well be "the biggest police corruption scandal at least since the early '90s."

UPDATE, 4:23 p.m.: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution just posted a press release from Yates' office that details the allegations, which you can find after the jump.