Miami-Dade Police Lieutenant Faces Drug Charges in NJ

A Miami-Dade police officer has been charged with aiding a drug-trafficking organization, authorities said.

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    A lieutenant with the Miami-Dade Police Department was charged Tuesday with aiding a narcotics-trafficking organization, federal law enforcement authorities said.

    Ralph Mata of Broward County was arrested Tuesday morning in Miami Gardens, New Jersey's U.S. attorney said. The 45-year-old, who is also known as "the Milk Man," is charged in what authorities describe as a scheme to distribute cocaine in New Jersey and elsewhere.

    U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said Mata also orchestrated a murder-for-hire plot, provided firearms and sensitive law enforcement information and helped transport of drug proceeds.

    According a criminal complaint, Mata and drug traffickers discussed a plot to kill rival drug dealers that had threatened to kill members of the group Mata was working for. Authorities say Mata arranged to pay two people dressed like police officers $150,000 per target. The drug dealers Mata is accused of working for ultimately abandoned the plot but still paid Mata for setting up the meetings, the complaint said.

    According to the complaint, Mata bought several guns to provide protection and security to the drug dealers in the Dominican Republic. Authorities say he took the weapons to the Dominican Republic on two trips between October 2012 and January 2013. Some of the weapons were later recovered by law enforcement.

    Authorities say Mata also used his law enforcement position to learn about the seizure of $419,000 in drug proceeds from a Bergen County, N.J., home. Dealers had initially suspected the money was stolen by another criminal.

    Mata has been charged with aiding and abetting a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, conspiring to distribute cocaine and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity — specifically, drug proceeds. The narcotics charges each carry a maximum sentence of life in prison. The transaction involving drug proceeds charge carries a sentence of up to 10 years.

    It was not immediately known if he had an attorney.

    Mata is with the police department's internal affairs division.

    He is due in federal court Wednesday in the Southern District of Florida.