Former Cartersville Police Officer charged with obstructing an FBI Drug Trafficking Investigation
ROME Ga. - Bryson-Taylor Wayne Banks, 31, of Cartersville, Georgia, has been arraigned on multiple federal charges, including unlawfully accessing a law enforcement database and disclosure of confidential information. Banks was a Cartersville Police Officer who was assigned to a DEA task force and allegedly used his access to law enforcement databases to alert an informant and drug traffickers to an active federal investigation.
“The defendant allegedly used his position to tip off drug traffickers to an active FBI investigation,” said U.S. Attorney John A. Horn. “His conduct is shocking, especially from someone sworn to uphold the law. Leaks of sensitive investigative information undermined the hard work of law enforcement officers and put them in real danger.”
“The federal investigation and its subsequent federal charges in this matter was unfortunate but necessary. A separate extensive and intensive federal investigation was clearly being negatively impacted by someone who was believed to be a law enforcement officer with inside information. The resulting investigation alleged that this officer was Cartersville P.D. Officer Banks who will now have to answer to these very serious allegations in a U.S. District Court,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.
Daniel R. Salter, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division said of the case, "This Cartersville police officer, assigned to the DEA Task Force, was sworn to uphold the law and protect the public from harm. Instead, he violated his oath by unlawfully accessing a law enforcement database and disclosing confidential information. Thanks to the dedicated law enforcement officers and the U.S. Attorney’s Office who worked tirelessly to make this investigation a success.”
“The Cartersville Police became aware of these allegations, and immediately initiated an internal investigation. Within two weeks, of the start of the investigation, Officer Bryson Taylor Banks was terminated for issues related to conduct, over two years ago. The Cartersville Police Department has been in full cooperation with all agencies involved pertaining to this investigations conclusion,” said Lieutenant Michael Bettikofer, Public Information Officer, Cartersville Police Department.
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: From October 2008 until August 2015, Banks served as a Cartersville Police Officer. As a law enforcement officer, Banks used a confidential informant who provided Banks with inside information about several drug traffickers.
In 2014, however, Banks allegedly began giving the informant information from a confidential law enforcement database, which allowed the informant to warn drug traffickers about the presence of law enforcement. Furthermore, in 2014 and 2015, the FBI was investigating a drug trafficking organization, which included an inmate in a Georgia state prison who was using contraband cellular telephones to coordinate drug deals. In July 2015, the FBI obtained court authorization to wiretap two of the inmate’s cellular telephones. On multiple occasions, the inmate was intercepted discussing drug trafficking activities with fellow drug trafficker Tomas Pineda Mendoza.
On the morning of August 11, 2015, the FBI informed Banks of its wiretap investigation of the inmate, including the fact that the inmate was arranging for the distribution of two kilograms of methamphetamine to Mendoza to occur at 2:00 p.m. that same day. Following this conversation, Banks allegedly warned his informant to advise Mendoza not to pick up drugs that day, and if he did, he would go to jail. Banks then disclosed the FBI wiretap of the inmate’s phones to his informant. Later that day, the FBI intercepted communications which revealed that the inmate had learned of the wiretap. The inmate then discontinued the use of his telephones, and the FBI investigation was compromised.
Banks has been charged as follows:
Unlawful Notification of Electronic Surveillance;
Unlawful Disclosure of Wire, Oral, or Electronic Communications;
Use of a Communication Facility in Causing or Facilitating the Commission of Felonies Under the Controlled Substances Act;
Misprision of a Felony;
Unlawfully Accessing a Law Enforcement Database; and
Disclosure of Confidential Information.
The indictment also alleges that in July 2015, Banks sent his informant a photograph of another law enforcement confidential informant. Banks advised his informant to stay away from that individual because they worked with law enforcement.
Bryson-Taylor Wayne Banks, 31, of Cartersville, Georgia, was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Walter E. Johnson. Banks was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 27, 2017.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Herskowitz is prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.