A Miami-Dade Police officer and his associate were arrested Monday for dealing in stolen vehicles, authorities said.
Officer Orestes Santiago Verdura, and 38-year-old Ariel Sanchez, were arrested on charges including dealing in stolen property, organized scheme to defraud and conspiracy to commit organized scheme to defraud, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office said.
Verdura is a 6-year veteran of the department and was assigned to uniform patrol in Miami Lakes but has been suspended, officials said.
"Today's arrest although extremely disappointing, in no way represents the hard work and dedication of the men and women of our department who serve their community with distinction each day," Miami-Dade Police Deputy Director Alfredo Ramirez said in a statement. "I am proud and grateful of our Professional Compliance Bureau’s investigative efforts to expose this breach of the public’s trust and allow us to hold those involved accountable for their actions."
Officials said the charges stem from an investigation into stolen trucks that were delivered by Sanchez and sold or brokered by Verdura. A confidential informant told investigators that Verdura and Sanchez considered stealing and selling a Lamborghini from an acquaintance they both knew, but the plan fell through with no action undertaken.
Verdura then brokered two separate sales of Ford F-250 pickup trucks that had been reported stolen in Palm Beach County, officials said. In both instances, payment was made in official Miami-Dade County funds to Verdura, who collected the payment while on duty, dressed in his police uniform, and driving a marked MDPD police vehicle, officials said.
Bond was set at $110,000 for each, and attorney information wasn't available.
"Officer Verdura betrayed everything and everyone he pledged to honor when he began engaging in his alleged criminal activities," State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. "I am proud of the swift action taken by the Miami-Dade Police Department to end Verdura's fraudulent activities and bring him and his associate to justice."