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Detroit chief: 11 officers gone, 2 face criminal charges over corrupt narcotics unit

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An ongoing corruption investigation into the Detroit Police Department's narcotic unit may take up to two years, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Wednesday.

Craig launched the investigation into what’s now called the "major violators" section after a former officer, Michael Mosley, was indicted for taking bribes from drug dealers. He subsequently pleaded guilty.

More than a year into what he now calls "Operation Clean Sweep," Craig says there’s accumulating evidence of major wrongdoing in the unit.

So far, eleven officers have either been terminated, retired, or resigned as a result of the investigation. Two more are suspended with pay.

Craig said criminal charges are forthcoming against two officers. One is accused of overtime fraud, which Craig said investigators have found was rampant in the unit. Another is accused of perjury. Craig said officers who have left the department could still face additional criminal charges.

Investigators have so far only reviewed case files dating back to 2017. In that time, they’ve discovered around fifty falsified search warrant affidavits. There’s also evidence that officers stole from drug dealers, and planted evidence. Some major dealers walked without charges, despite evidence against them, including confessions.

There was also rampant misuse of confidential informants. Craig said investigators have also recently uncovered likely embezzlement of funds meant to pay informants.

Craig said the unit now has fewer officers and completely new personnel, including new management. He blamed a lack of oversight for the extent of the corruption.

“When you talk about a corruption probe of this magnitude, it first starts with failed supervision,” Craig said. “Nobody was paying attention.”

While the investigation is DPD-led, Craig said it includes investigators from the Michigan State Police, the FBI, and Michigan Attorney General's office. He said the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office is also involved in reviewing warrant requests, and looking backwards at prosecutions that may have been compromised by officer misconduct. So far, two people whose charges or convictions were based on evidence from the narcotics unit have been cleared and released, and officials expect more exonerations as a result of the corruption.

Craig said the investigation, which he initially expected would take about a year, will now likely take closer to two. “We want to permanently root out that type of corruption,” he said.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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