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Feds Bust Veteran LAPD Officer Dealing Cocaine, Used Informant

Feds Bust Veteran LAPD Officer Dealing Cocaine, Used Informant

LAPD

Photo: Packets containing cocaine (Customs Malta via AP)

A 21-year veteran Los Angeles Police Department officer and his confidential informant have been arrested on federal drug trafficking charges.

The officer, John Abel Baca, is a 45-year-old member of the Inglewood Police Department and a police union representative. He was arrested on Oct. 21 after a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment charging him with the distribution of cocaine, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Central District of California.

His alleged accomplice, 42-year-old South Los Angeles resident Gerardo Ekonomo, was arrested first, prosecutors said. Ekonomo had served as Baca’s confidential informant.

When FBI agents carried out a search warrant at Ekonomo’s home, they seized more than a kilogram of heroin and more than a half-kilogram of suspected cocaine, The Los Angeles Times reported. A kilogram is about 2.2 pounds.

Ekonomo was charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin, prosecutors said. 

Baca knowingly distributed cocaine on April 29. Then on May 4, he allegedly delivered cocaine to a person cooperating with law enforcement, prosecutors said.

“Baca allegedly delivered approximately one kilogram of cocaine to the same cooperating witness during another meeting, in exchange for $22,000 in cash,” prosecutors said. In total, he was charged for allegedly participating in two cocaine transactions, the Department of Justice announced.

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According to ​​FBI Special Agent Robert Logan in the affidavit, communication between Ekonomo and Baca “shows that Baca is willing to abuse his position as a law enforcement officer in furtherance of his drug trafficking activities and to assist and protect his co-conspirators.”

Baca denied ever selling any drugs and Ekonomo also denied charges against him.

If convicted as charged in the indictment, Baca faces a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence and a maximum of 60 years in prison.

During his arraignment, a judge found Baca to be “a flight risk and a danger to the community,” according to a Department of Justice press release, and held the police officer in federal custody without bail, CourtHouse News reported.

Ekonomo faces a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum life sentence if convicted as charged, prosecutors said.

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