Sixteen former police officers in Puerto Rico have admitted to operating what amounts to a criminal enterprise in the U.S. island territory.
The U.S. Justice Department says the ex-officers have pleaded guilty to charges that include robbery and extortion.
The department said in a statement Monday that the officers stole from people during traffic stops and searches of homes. They also planted evidence to make false arrests and provided false testimony or failed to show up in court to get charges dismissed in exchange for payoffs. The officers also sold “wholesale” quantities of drugs on the island. Sentencing is scheduled for December and some face up to 20 years.
The Puerto Rico police department has been operating under a 10-year federally mandated oversight program because of corruption and civil rights violations.