OPA-LOCKA, Fla. (CBSMiami.com) – Federal officials have started to peel back the layers to reveal just how deep they believe Opa-Locka Police Captain Arthur Balom was involved in drug trafficking and gang activity.
Balom was one of six people arrested Thursday that federal authorities believe were involved in drug trafficking and were possibly involved in a deadly Brinks truck robbery in Miramar in 2010.
The group, including Balom, made their initial court appearance Friday and details of the involvement began to come into focus.
Along with Balom, those making their initial court appearance Friday were: Toriano Johnson, 36; Terrence Johnson, 38; Dwayne Miller, 27; Jermaine Parrish, 29; Antwan Davis, 29; Lawrence Benbow, 35; and Justin Jean, 27.
Federal officials claim that the criminal organization operated out of a section of Opa-Locka known as Back Blue, which led the gang to be called the Back Blue gang.
The gang allegedly controlled everything from street sales to mid-level drug distribution and were involved in other organizations.
The leader of the Back Blue Gang, federal authorities said, was Toriano Johnson. He was indicted on the drug charges Thursday, but was already in custody for the Brinks truck robbery and murder charges from October.
Captain Balom was allegedly Toriano Johnson’s protector in law enforcement. Federal officials said Balon was involved in every aspect of the gang, from drug trafficking and distribution to planning the armored car robbery.
Federal officials said that Balom would re-route Opa-Locka Police officers away from where the gang would be doing business. Balom would tell police to concentrate in an area away from where the drug gang was allegedly doing deals.
Balom allegedly helped the gang by stealing police equipment from the Opa-Locka Police Department. He would then give the gear to his fellow gang members.
Federal officials said the stolen gear included police-issued bulletproof vests to the crew that carried out the Brinks truck robbery and murder.
Federal agents were able to trace the bullet proof vests back to the Opa-Locka Police Department through the serial number after one was left by the criminals near the scene of the Brinks guards’ murder.
Federal agents said Balom sold the four bulletproof vest to the men who carried out the Brinks guard’s murder.
Federal officials said they are also investigating the possibility that Balom may have stolen guns and ammunition from the Opa-Locka Police Department and funneled that gear to fellow gang members. Federal authorities also said that Balom knew about the Brinks truck robbery in advance.
Agents are investigating the possibility that Balom may have also stolen guns and ammunition from Opa Locka Police and gave that to the gang members.
Once the FBI began to target Toriano and Terrence Johnson, Balom told the feds that he had already run one of them out of town. But, the next day the FBI recorded Balom on video meeting with one of the brothers telling him the FBI was after him.
Federal agents said that their investigation into the gang and its related activities in the city of Opa-Locka will continue.
The maximum sentence for the charges against the suspects who appeared in court on drug trafficking charges would be 40 years in federal prison.