Philadelphia Police Officer Charged
August 1 (PHILADELPHIA, Pa) - An indictment was unsealed today charging a 23 year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, Rafael Cordero, 49, of Philadelphia, with interfering in a federal drug investigation of the Christian Serrano/Edwin Medina Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO). The indictment alleges that Cordero provided sensitive law enforcement information about drug investigations to his half-brother, David Garcia, an alleged member of the Serrano/Medina DTO. This indictment was announced today by United States Attorney Zane David Memeger and Special Agent in Charge George C. Venizelos, of the Philadelphia Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
According to the indictment, Cordero gave information to his half-brother about a surveillance camera put up by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to monitor activities occurring at a garage, located at 538 East Indiana Street in Philadelphia, used by the Medina DTO. Additionally, the indictment alleges that when the FBI and DEA executed search warrants at several locations associated with the Serrano/Medina DTOs, including the garage, Cordero, after being informed about the searches by his half-brother and without having any official reason to do so, went to the search location on East Indiana Street and began looking in the windows of the garage. When confronted by law enforcement and brought inside the location, Cordero misrepresented his reason for being at the location and offered to assist with the search. At no time did Cordero provide his name to law enforcement.
Immediately after leaving the search location, Cordero allegedly placed a call to David Garcia and shared with him, among other things, how many law enforcement officers were conducting the search and what areas of the garage they were searching. The indictment further alleges that in a subsequent call with Garcia during which Cordero and Garcia discussed the searches, Cordero instructed Garcia, “When you get home take my picture down.”
It is also alleged that David Garcia removed a DVR tape that law enforcement had inadvertently failed to seize during the search and viewed it to see if Cordero was recorded at the garage at the time of the search, which he was. At no time did Cordero inform law enforcement that David Garcia had possession of the video tape.
Between January and July 2011, Cordero allegedly allowed David Garcia to store money at Cordero’s home, which Cordero knew were the proceeds of illegal drug sales. After David Garcia was arrested by DEA agents on July 27, 2011, Cordero allegedly had his brother, E.C., take possession of the money, thereby obstructing justice.
The indictment further alleges that when questioned by federal agents, Cordero denied giving information to Garcia regarding the surveillance camera, denied knowing of anyone associated with the Indiana Street garage, denied having spoken to David Garcia about the search at the garage, and denied passing on information regarding cooperating witnesses to Garcia, all of which were false statements.
“Police officers are sworn to uphold the law, not obstruct it,” said Memeger. “The defendant’s alleged criminal conduct not only could have destroyed a federal investigation, but also could have threatened the safety and lives of federal agents who were investigating dangerous drug dealers.”
“When any police officer helps a criminal organization evade law enforcement, as this indictment today alleges, he abandons the sacred trust of his law enforcement oath and jeopardizes public safety through his alleged criminal activities,” said Venizelos.
If convicted of all charges, Cordero faces a maximum possible sentence of 35 years imprisonment.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Philadelphia Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Philadelphia Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Maureen McCartney.
An indictment is merely a charge of criminal conduct; a defendant must be ultimately found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.