Last year, Julio Vasquez and Thomas Rachko donned NYPD raid jackets and set the stage for New York City’s worst police-corruption scandal in a decade, says the Associated Press. The veteran detectives stopped a drug courier and allegedly stole nearly $170,000 in cash. They didn’t know other officers were watching. Vasquez and Rachko began cooperating with investigators. Officials now say up to 10 other current and former officers–one-time members of the same narcotics task force–are suspects in the theft of drugs and drug money.
AP says the investigation has embarrassed the nation’s largest police department and threatened to tarnish its war on drugs. It has drawn comparisons to the notorious “Dirty 30” corruption scandal in the early 1990s. More than 30 police officers from Harlem’s 30th Precinct were accused of stealing cash from drug dealers, taking bribes, beating suspects, and lying under oath to cover their tracks.
Police officials say the current case appears unlikely to reach the same levels and that the suspects acted individually and at varying times dating back as far as 15 years.
Vasquez, Rachko, and Christian Joel Hernandez – a reputed drug courier who allegedly helped them pilfer hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug proceeds – pleaded innocent Friday.