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Law officers rounded up on drug charges

January 21, 1998
Web posted at: 11:18 p.m. EST (0418 GMT)

CLEVELAND (CNN) -- A two-year undercover sting operation ended with the arrests of 43 police officers and jail guards in the Cleveland area on charges of providing protection for drug deals, the FBI announced Wednesday.

Overall, 58 people have been arrested and one person is still being sought in the probe, according to FBI Special Agent Van Harp.

The investigation began in late 1995 as part of a nationwide crackdown on organized crime but "turned back on law enforcement" when Cuyahoga County corrections officer Michael Joye allegedly sold cocaine to two undercover officers, Harp said.

"At the time of the drug sale, Joye mentioned that he was acquainted with numerous Cleveland area law enforcement officers who would be available as members of a 'security detail' at future drug transactions, the idea being that the 'security detail' would protect the undercover operation from outside interference" by other drug dealers and investigators, Harp said.

The jail guards and law enforcement officers are accused of providing security protection for up to 16 illegal drug deals ranging from the sale of 700 pounds of marijuana to the sale of 50 kilograms of cocaine, Harp said.

The arrested officers were from five law enforcement agencies. They include 24 corrections officers and one deputy sheriff from the Cuyahoga County Sheriffs Department, six officers from the Cleveland Police Department, two police officers from Brooklyn, Ohio, three police officers from Cleveland Heights and six police officers from East Cleveland, Harp said.

Eight other people arrested had represented themselves as law enforcement officers but were not, he said. Only 15 of the 59 people arrested or sought were the accused drug dealers, who were the original targets of the undercover operation.


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