Another Baltimore Cop Facing Criminal Charges, This Time For Stealing 3 Kilos Of Coke From A Drug Bust

from the know-thy-enemy-or-whatever dept

All hail the mighty drug warriors! The War on Drugs is being fought by people who like cash, easy busts, and imagined traffic violations. The "soldiers" in the "trenches" literally believe they're soldiers in the trenches, fighting a war at home -- not as protectors and servants, but as a conquering army sent in to control the local populace.

The Baltimore PD has problems within its drug enforcement units. Several. Enough that the DOJ stepped in and forced the city and the PD to sign a consent agreement in which the PD would be forced to do what it always should have done: respect the Constitution and the rights of the people the PD serves.

Dozens of cases were dismissed after a cop was caught by his own body camera appearing to plant drugs at the scene of an arrest. It turned out he was just doing a dramatic reenactment of his own discovery earlier, but forgot about the rolling 30-second buffer which caught him shoving drugs into a coffee can and then pretending to have just discovered it the second time around.

But that's only one tip of the PD's garbage floe. Hundreds of cases are up for dismissal now. Misconduct appears to be the rule, not the exception. And it has resulted in the city's drug warriors being exposed as no better than the perps they went after. Here's Justin Fenton reporting for the Baltimore Sun:

It was billed as the biggest cocaine bust in Baltimore Police Department history: officers from the elite Violent Crimes Impact Division conducting surveillance on a West Baltimore drug trafficker a decade ago found 41 kilograms of cocaine in the back of a truck.

“Just good old fashioned police work from the ground up," read the commendation awarded by the department to officers in on the bust.

[...]

Detective Ivo Louvado was charged Thursday with lying to the FBI about participating in a scheme to sell cocaine from that bust. Prosecutors said in court records that he and two others conspired to sell 3 kilograms that were not reported as seized, giving the drugs to a confidential informant to sell and dividing the proceeds among themselves. Louvado’s alleged cut: $10,000.

The glowing commendation that has been tarnished by this discovery can be seen here. It lauds seven members of the PD's violent crime unit for their bust of "five violent traffickers" along with the recovery of 44 kilos of drugs. Or 41, as it was reported at the time:

"These [drugs], wherever they were destined, whether Western Maryland, the Eastern Shore or East or West Baltimore, they are affecting our communities," [Police Chief] Bealefeld said at a news conference. "Forty-one kilos of cocaine will not reach the streets of our city. All of us can take some comfort in that."

All seven of the officers were given Bronze Stars for their anti-drug work "along the I-95 corridor." But at least three of those officers decided a commendation and a paycheck wasn't enough appreciation for their hard work. All of this escaped notice for nearly a decade.

Now that someone outside of the department is paying attention -- specifically the US Attorney's office -- things like this are no longer going unnoticed (or deliberately being ignored). Louvado's indictment makes him the 14th officer charged in this investigation.

All of this stems from the PD's Gun Trace Task Force, which ran pretty much unsupervised for years. It's former leader, Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, is serving a 25-year sentence on federal racketeering charges. And its former members are the reason prosecutors are dropping hundreds of cases and opening up belated investigations into its strike force's tactics.

Fourteen cops facing criminal charges is absurd and should be shocking. This just means 14 cops were finally caught, not that the PD and federal prosecutors have actually rid the department of most of its bad cops. Any department that finds itself under a DOJ consent decree has allowed enough misconduct to go unpunished it has managed to alter almost every aspect of day-to-day police work to the detriment of those asked to fund the PD and pay for substandard, abusive policing. There's a small chance this will result in a better police department, but history has shown us bad cops -- and those who enable them -- are incredibly resilient.

Filed Under: baltimore, drug bust, drugs, ivo louvado, police, stealing


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  1. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Mar 2020 @ 4:48am

    Re:

    "Er, why didn't they try good faith and/or qualified immunity."

    Because qualified immunity only immunizes against civil suits.

    Normally that makes a corrupt officer completely immune to prosecution since DA's, when it comes to offending cops, are almost always willing to bend prosecutorial discretion into a moebius strip with "nope!" written on that one side whenever a case involving a corrupt officer comes along.

    The saddest part of this story is where you can pretty much guess that the only reason the DA got off his ass and prosecuted was because the story was too high-key to remain covered anyway and he'd look even worse if he let it slide as usual.


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