Two men accused of drug dealing had charges against them dropped Thursday after their attorney told a judge that five Philadelphia antinarcotics officers involved in their case had “partnered with drug dealers” in crime. READ ARTICLE

Cops on the Drug Task Forces do NOT get charged with crimes. They get reassigned. They know too much about the illegal tactics used to create their drug cases. The illegal use of private investigators to hide the lack of a search warrant. The illegal use of computer and phone hacking to get information used to ‘stumble upon’ drug buys. They know how many people have been set up and destroyed.

The action came two days after Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey transferred the five officers and a lieutenant from the aggressive Narcotics Field Unit.

District Attorney Seth Williams informed Ramsey by letter Monday that his office would no longer use the officers as witnesses, accept charges, or approve search warrants in narcotics cases in which they were involved.

“There was a group of police officers who essentially partnered with certain drug dealers, and they partnered with those drug dealers to do things that were both illegal and outright crimes,”

“The implications of this are huge,” Schwartz said in response to news of the prosecution’s statements about the officers. “And not just in terms of future prosecutions. The real unknown is, how many convictions will be impacted?”

The accusations brought to mind the scandal surrounding five narcotics officers taken off the street in 2009.

Those officers have for more than three years been under federal investigation for alleged evidence-planting, illegal searches, and theft. One officer also is accused of groping several women during searches. Ramsey recently said he did not expect the investigation to continue.

The alleged activities of the narcotics unit were spotlighted in a series of Pulitzer Prize-winning stories in the Philadelphia Daily News, based in part on interviews with a criminal informant who claimed he and veteran narcotics Officer Jeffrey Cujdik sometimes falsified information to get search warrants approved.

Later the owners of several bodegas came forward, reporting that the squad had robbed their stores under the pretense of searching for plastic ziplock bags used for packaging drugs. The officers cut the wires of store cameras to mask their conduct, those merchants said.

As members of the highly aggressive Narcotics Field Unit, Cujdik and the other members of his squad made dozens, sometimes hundreds, of arrests per year.

The Public Defender’s Office has since filed court petitions to overturn at least 55 criminal convictions involving arrests by those officers. The matter is before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The city has also settled 21 lawsuits for about $1 million from that scandal.

That pales by comparison with the more than $4 million that was paid out during the 39th District scandal of the late 1990s. In that case, five district officers who worked narcotics cases were convicted of federal corruption charges.

Out of control Drug Task Force? Where has that been documented before? The illegal activity of the “War on Drugs” has become a liability all across the US.

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