NYPD Police Officer Indicted for Armed Robbery Conspiracy and Narcotics Trafficking
Robbery Crew Netted More Than 250 Kilograms of Cocaine and $1 Million in Drug Proceeds in Over One Hundred Robberies
A superseding indictment was unsealed this morning in federal court in Brooklyn adding a new defendant, Emmanuel Tavarez, to an indictment previously obtained against an alleged violent robbery crew responsible for more than one hundred armed robberies of narcotics traffickers in the New York City metropolitan area that netted more than 250 kilograms of cocaine and $1 million in drug proceeds.1 Tavarez is an eight-year veteran of the New York City Police Department currently assigned to the NYPD’s Housing Bureau Viper Unit in Queens. Tavarez will be arraigned later today before United States Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr., at the U.S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York.
The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, John P. Gilbride, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York, James T. Hayes, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Investigations, New York (ICE), Raymond W. Kelly, Commissioner, New York City Police Department, and John P. Melville, Acting Superintendent, New York State Police.
As alleged in the indictments and a detention letter filed by the government, beginning in 2001, robbery crew members posing as police officers staged arrests of drug traffickers, using fake arrest and search warrants, and then forcibly took drugs and money from the traffickers. The investigation further revealed that, as necessary, members of the crew restrained the traffickers or bystanders with handcuffs, rope, and duct tape. In addition, crew members often brandished firearms or physically assaulted their victims.
Tavarez allegedly used his status as a police officer to obtain NYPD raid jackets and other NYPD paraphernalia and equipment for the crew so that they would appear to be authentic police officers. According to the government’s filings, Tavarez personally participated in robberies which netted thousands of dollars in cash and hundreds of kilograms of cocaine with a wholesale value estimated at more than $1,000,000.
Investigators recovered some of the tools of the trade from members of the crew, including firearms, handcuffs, counterfeit law enforcement badges and Miranda warning cards, pepper spray, police-style radios, plastic tie-wrap handcuffs, gloves, duct tape, and a wooden club.
“The defendant is alleged to have committed serious crimes and compounded that by violating the very law he was sworn to uphold,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “The charged conduct unfairly tarnishes the proud reputation of the thousands of law enforcement officers in New York who put their lives on the line every day to protect our residents and their communities.” Ms. Lynch thanked the Philadelphia Police Department for its assistance in the investigation.
DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Gilbride stated, “Law enforcement officers worldwide take an oath to work for the public good. The crimes alleged to have been committed by Emmanuel Tavarez are a slap in the face to the vast majority of law enforcement officers in New York City who are dedicated to upholding the law. Those who commit such crimes are not worthy to stand among the ranks of the good men and women who wear their badges with pride in order to protect the citizens of New York City.”
ICE Special Agent-in-Charge Hayes stated, “This investigation has shown the unfortunate reality that people in all professional positions can become involved in criminal activity. People who commit such crimes will be held accountable.”
If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen Meyer, Sylvia Shweder, and Alexander Solomon.
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