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Sweetwater’s Interim Police Chief Already In The Hot Seat Over Decades-Old Investigation

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(Source: CBS4)

(Source: CBS4)

Lauren-Pastrana-600x450 Lauren Pastrana
Lauren Pastrana joined CBS Miami in April 2012 as a reporter. ...
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Politics

SWEETWATER (CBSMiami) – He’s barely settled into his new office, but Sweetwater’s interim police chief is already defending himself against allegations that are more than three decades old.

Sweetwater Mayor Jose M. Diaz appointed Jesus “Jesse” Menocal as the police department’s interim chief on the heels of Chief Roberto Fulgueira’s retirement announcement earlier this week in the midst of an ongoing FBI probe into several officers in the department.

Menocal has previously served as the agency’s chief, but before he even became a Sweetwater cop 27 years ago, he was implicated for being involved with a drug trafficker, according to a memo obtained by CBS4 News.

“I’ve never been arrested. I’ve never been questioned or said to have done something illegal,” Menocal told CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana. “No victim has ever come forward to say I’ve done anything.”

The memo, dated June 22, 1984, was written by former Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito.

At the time, Exposito was a lieutenant investigating Menocal’s brother, Ignacio.

Ignacio Menocal, the memo states, was a Miami Police officer in the early 80s.

His twin brother, Jesse Menocal, was looking for a job with the department.

Exposito said he was denied that job because of his recorded conversations with a drug trafficker who went by the name Julio Gambino.

“All these meetings were audio taped, and monitored by us,” he explained. “We were there.”

Gambino, Exposito said, was actually a police informant.

“He even asked the informant, do I have to beat this guy or just steal the cocaine?” Exposito explained. “I think that’s a pretty harrowing statement by someone who wanted to be a cop at the time and then eventually became a cop.”

The documents state “Menocal asked Gambino if he wanted the cocaine ripped-off or just moved from one place to another… Gambino also told Menocal that it would be worth $10,000 to him to have that done.”

According to Exposito’s written report, Menocal backed off the plot in March 1983.

Thirty years late, Menocal said he was never involved to begin with.

“There is no conspiracy. If I was doing conspiracy, I would have been charged,” Menocal said. “I’ve been here with six mayors, the chief this is going to be my second time. And now, it’s an issue? He needs to look at himself, his resume and his credibility with the community.”

The Interim Chief called this a diversion from bigger issues in the city.

Exposito said he has little interest in what happens in Sweetwater, but claims he was surprised to learn someone who was once denied a job with Miami Police Dept. is now a police chief.

“It’s astounding. I guess we assume that all cities vet their candidates for the chief’s position, but apparently they don’t,” Exposito said. “Would you want someone running the police department who at one point in time was willing to do a drug rip-off? I don’t think so.”

Mayor Jose Diaz, who appointed Menocal, said he stands by his choice, but acknowledges there may be more dark days ahead for his city.

“I don’t know why these low punches are being brought up at this point in his life. He’s a family man, dedicated man to his community,” Diaz said about Menocal. “I think we have ahead of us still a lot of shadows that are going to stop us from moving faster, but we will.”

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