Miami-Dade, Fla. Police Officer Charged In Cocaine Trafficking Conspiracy
NEWARK, N.J. - An internal affairs officer of the Miami-Dade Police Department was arrested this morning in Miami Gardens, Fla., and charged with allegedly aiding a narcotics trafficking organization – distributing cocaine from the Dominican Republic in New Jersey and elsewhere – by orchestrating a murder-for-hire plot; providing firearms and sensitive law enforcement information; and facilitating the transport of drug proceeds, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Ralph Mata, 45, a/k/a “the Milk Man,” of Broward County, Fla. – a lieutenant with the Miami-Dade Police Department, Internal Affairs – is charged by federal criminal complaint with one count each of: aiding and abetting a conspiracy to distribute cocaine; conspiring to distribute cocaine; and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity – specifically, drug proceeds.
Mata is scheduled to appear tomorrow, April 9, 2014, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia M. Otazo-Reyes in federal court in the Southern District of Florida.
According to the complaint unsealed today:
After rival drug dealers threatened to kill members of the drug trafficking organization, or “DTO,” with which Mata conspired, Mata and members of the DTO discussed a murder plot. Mata stated that his contacts – assassins – would wear uniforms and badges to make it appear as though the two targets of the plot were being pulled over by law enforcement before shooting them. Mata arranged to pay two assassins $150,000 per target. Ultimately, the DTO decided not to move forward with the murder plot, but Mata still received a payment for setting up the meetings.
Mata purchased several firearms to provide protection and security to the DTO members located in the Dominican Republic, which he transported on two separate trips from Miami to the Dominican Republic between Oct.5, 2012, and Jan. 17, 2013. A number of these firearms have been recovered by law enforcement.
Mata also helped to transport narcotics proceeds for the DTO in exchange for thousands of dollars in cash and a Rolex watch valued at approximately $10,000.
Mata also used sources of information available to him as a law enforcement officer to find out information about the seizure of $419,000 in narcotics proceeds from a Bergen County, N.J., residence, which members of the DTO suspected had been stolen by another member, but were in fact seized by law enforcement.
The narcotics charges each carry a statutory mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum potential penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine. The transaction involving drug proceeds charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Garret Mountain Resident Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark; the DEA’s Paterson Post of Duty under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Carl J. Kotowski; IRS – Criminal Investigation, Newark Field Office, under the Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, New York, under the direction of James T. Hayes Jr. He also thanked the Miami FBI, Miami-Dade Police Department and Miami-Area Corruption Task Force for their assistance with the arrest. The investigation is ongoing.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mary Toscano of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division, José Almonte of the Criminal Division, and Barbara Ward and Marion Percell, Chief, of the office’s Asset Forfeiture Unit.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense counsel: TBD