Former New York City Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Commit Robberies and Heroin Trafficking
MAY 14 -- (BROOKLYN, NY) This afternoon, Jorge Arbaje-Diaz, a former member of the New York City Police department, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn to robbery conspiracy and heroin trafficking charges filed by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and to a separate robbery conspiracy charge filed by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
The guilty plea was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Pursuant to the terms of his plea agreement, and subject to approval by the court, Abaje-Diaz faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and the possibility of a life sentence for the robbery conspiracy and heroin trafficking charges and the possibility of a 20-year sentence for the robbery conspiracy charge.
As detailed in the Eastern District’s superseding indictment and other court filings by the government, Arbaje-Diaz was a member of a violent robbery crew responsible for more than one hundred armed robberies of narcotics traffickers along the east coast of the United States that netted more than 750 kilograms of cocaine and $4 million in drug proceeds. Beginning in May 2003, crew members posed as police officers in order to subdue narcotics traffickers and their families, and then kidnaped, tortured, and robbed their victims. Arbaje-Diaz used his status as a police officer to demand and gain access to the victims’ residences. Once inside, Arbaje-Diaz and his co-defendants handcuffed their victims at gunpoint, threatening to arrest them if they did not reveal where their drugs and money were stored. Arbaje-Diaz is alleged to have personally participated in robberies which netted thousands of dollars in cash and multiple kilograms of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana with a wholesale value estimated at more than $200,000. On at least one occasion, Arbaje-Diaz allegedly carried out an armed robbery with members of the crew while on duty wearing his NYPD uniform and carrying his department-issued firearm, badge, and handcuffs.
As alleged in the Southern District’s indictment and other court filings by the government, Arbaje-Diaz was a member of a second robbery crew that conspired to commit armed robberies of suspected narcotics traffickers. According to the indictment, in August 2008, at a location in Manhattan, Arbaje-Diaz and other crew members attempted to rob a suspected narcotics trafficker inside his home and forcibly bound the victim.
In announcing the guilty plea, Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the Drug Enforcement Administration; the New York City Police Department; the Durham, North Carolina Police, Special Operations Division, Major Crimes Unit; the Philadelphia Police Department; the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office; and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
The Eastern District case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Andrea Goldbarg, Shreve Ariail, Justin Lerer, and Special Assistant United States Attorney Jeremy Shockett, an Assistant District Attorney from the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office. The Southern District case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Telemachus Kasulis and Zachary Feingold.