MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The FBI is investigating a ring of Miami police officers who have been providing protection services to a bookmaking operation in Liberty City, CBS4 News has learned.
Six officers are expected to be arrested, with three or four others likely to face departmental discipline including termination. The officers’ arrests are expected in the next few weeks.
The investigation began almost two years ago, when the Miami-Dade Police Department followed up on a tip about a possible gambling house in Liberty City.
As Miami-Dade police started watching the storefront business in the area of 62nd Street, they noticed a Miami Police cruiser with a Miami police officer inside parked next to the business.
It soon became clear the officer — who was off-duty at the time — was there to provide protection for the gambling house, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
As MPD continued its surveillance, more off-duty officers were spotted taking turns guarding the operation.
At the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, Miami-Dade police turned over its information to MPD’s Internal Affairs Unit and the FBI.
The case has been building ever since, expanding to include another gambling house in the area that was also receiving protection.
In addition to providing security at the bookmaking operations, sources tell CBS4 Investigator Jim DeFede the officers also acted as bodyguards when money needed to be moved to and from the gambling houses.
The purpose of the police protection was primarily to prevent street gangs or other people from attempting to rob the operation. Gambling houses are often targets for violent home invasion robberies.
Over the past three weeks, FBI agents have approached some of the officers under investigation. The agents let the officers know they were in serious trouble and should consider cooperating. It is common for the FBI to approach subjects of an investigation once all of the evidence has been gathered.
As a result of these overtures by the FBI, rumors started circulating within the department and eventually made their way onto the police-oriented website, LEOAFFAIRS.com.