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Bail set at $500,000 for Miami police officer charged with drug, weapons trafficking

Miami police lieutenant assigned to internal affairs allegedly smuggled guns and cash for drug traffickers.
By Frances Burns   |   April 14, 2014 at 2:30 PM   |   Comments

MIAMI, April 14 (UPI) -- A Miami police lieutenant charged in New Jersey with drug and weapons trafficking must prove any bail payments come from legal sources, authorities said Monday.

Bail was set at $500,000 bond for Lt. Ralph Mata, 45, a 22-year veteran of the Miami-Dade Police Department. Mata must make two payments with the larger one non-refundable, $37,500 as security for half the bond and $25,000 on the other.

Barry Garber, a U.S. magistrate in Miami, said that if Mata makes bail he must surrender his gun and passport. He will be confined to his home in Pembroke Pines with electronic monitoring, allowed to leave only to appear in court, for medical appointments and for religious observances.

Bruce Fleisher, Mata's lawyer, told the Miami Herald after Mata's court appearance Monday that he negotiated the bail agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey, with prosecutors “taking into consideration his 22 years of service as a police officer and his good family.” Mata must show the payments he posts are not drug profits.

Mata, who had been assigned to internal affairs for the past four years to investigate police officers accused of misconduct, was arrested Wednesday. Federal prosecutors in New Jersey say he worked with drug dealers who smuggled cocaine from Ecuador and the Dominican Republic, often hidden in container shipments of bananas.

Prosecutors say Mata's drug confederates called him the "Milk Man." He allegedly bought weapons and took them to the Dominican Republic, carried cash there for the traffickers and advised them on moving cocaine through Miami.

In one case, Mata allegedly advised the traffickers on how to execute two rivals. At one point, prosecutors said, he suggested using gunmen wearing police uniforms to pull over the targets in a "traffic stop."

Three of his alleged confederates, Juan C. Arias, Martin Nuñez-Lora and Persio Nuñez, were arrested last year. All three have pleaded guilty and apparently agreed to cooperate with federal investigators.

[Miami Herald]

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