Criminal Complaint Charges Three City of Miami Police Department Officers with Federal Drug Trafficking Charges
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Florida
U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan for the Southern District of Florida, Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, and Jorge R. Colina, Chief of the City of Miami Police Department (MPD), today announced the unsealing of a criminal complaint charging City of Miami Police Officers Schonton Harris, Kelvin Harris, and James Archibald for their involvement in a drug trafficking conspiracy.
Schonton Harris, Kelvin Harris and Archibald were charged with conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846; attempting to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846 and Title 18, United states Code, Section 2; and using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 924(c) and 2. If convicted of the conspiracy and attempted narcotics possession with intent to distribute charges, the defendants each face life in prison and a mandatory-minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. If convicted of the armed drug trafficking offense, each defendant faces a mandatory consecutive sentence of 5 years in prison.
The criminal complaint alleges that Officers Schonton Harris, Kelvin Harris and Archibald collectively provided protection to the transportation and distribution of purported cocaine, opioids and drug proceeds, in exchange for cash (bribe) payments. The Officers believed that they were protecting the activities of money launders and narcotics traffickers, when in fact they were engaged in a criminal enterprise with undercover federal officers.
The complaint alleges Officer Schonton Harris initially provided protection for a courier who was purportedly collecting drug proceeds from pharmacies and clinics engaged in the illegal sale of opioids and then depositing the money into a bank. She also allegedly acted as a police protection escort for a purported shipment of 2,000 prescription opioid pills and multiple kilograms of cocaine, that were transported to a Miami-area hotel. The complaint further alleges that Officer Kelvin Harris later joined the protection scheme. Together, Officers Schonton Harris and Kelvin Harris provided police protection for a purported money launderer. They then allegedly escorted a multi-kilogram shipment of sham cocaine. The complaint alleges, in September 2018, Officer Archibald actively joined the drug trafficking conspiracy. Believing they were working with a high-level narcotics trafficker, the three officers allegedly provided police protection for a 40-kilogram delivery of sham cocaine. On a later date, the three officers allegedly transported 30-kilograms of sham cocaine from a Miami-area marina to Miami-area hotels. Rather than protecting the couriers, the officers are alleged to have personally taken possession of the sham cocaine.
The complaint also alleges that Officer Schonton Harris sold a City of Miami Police Department uniform and badge to an undercover officer, for $1,500.
At times during the protection details, the officers were armed and/or in uniform.
U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan said, “The charges announced today represent a united commitment, amongst federal and state partners, to combat corruption. No one wants corrupt officers in our police departments or on our streets. We will not allow those who abuse their positions of power, to tarnish the reputation of the City of Miami Police Department and the dedicated officers who proudly serve and protect our South Florida communities. The U.S. Attorney’s Office commends City of Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina for leading by example and encourages anyone with information regarding corruption to contact the FBI.”
“This investigation was initiated by the City of Miami Internal Affairs, then developed with the leadership of the FBI’s Miami Area Corruption Task Force,” said Denise Stemen, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. “Chief Jorge Colina took decisive action to preserve the integrity of his department and the fine officers who serve Miami every day. I commend his actions and discretion throughout this investigation.”
“We are committed to protecting our communities and eliminating corruption,” stated MPD Chief Jorge Colina. “Once the City of Miami Police Department was made aware of the suspected criminal conduct, we immediately reached out to our federal partners to ensure that any officer who breaks the law faces appropriate consequences. We commend the concerned citizen who made the initial report to law enforcement and initiated this important investigation. We encourage anyone with information regarding suspected corruption to report their concerns directly to our police department or the FBI.”
A criminal complaint contains allegations and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commends the investigative efforts of the FBI, the FBI Miami Area Corruption Task Force and MPD in this matter. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry Wallace.
Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.
Updated April 18, 2023