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Puerto Rican police indicted for running 'criminal organization'

By CNN Staff
updated 1:56 PM EDT, Thu May 22, 2014

(CNN) -- Sixteen current and former police officers in Puerto Rico are being indicted for allegedly participating in a "criminal organization, run out of the police department," the U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday.

The officers allegedly "used their affiliation with law enforcement to make money through robbery, extortion, manipulating court records and selling illegal narcotics," prosecutors announced.

"The criminal action today dismantles an entire network of officers who, we allege, used their badges and their guns not to uphold the law, but to break it," Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O'Neil said in a statement.

Corruption has dogged the island's police force in recent years.

In 2010, the Justice Department indicted 89 law enforcement officers for alleged drug trafficking. In 2011, the department said Puerto Rican police have a long pattern of violating citizens' constitutional rights through excessive force and unwarranted searches.

In 2012, a scathing report from the ACLU called the Puerto Rico Police Department "a dysfunctional and recalcitrant police force that has run amok for years."

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