NEW YORK - (AP) - A sting operation resulted in the arrest Tuesdayof five New York Police Department officers on charges that theysmuggled firearms, cigarettes and slot machines they thought werestolen, federal authorities said.
The officers were among 12 people charged in a criminalcomplaint unsealed in federal court in Manhattan. Three retiredNYPD officers and a New Jersey corrections officer are among theother defendants.
The men were to appear in court later Tuesday to face conspiracyand firearms charges. The names of their attorneys were notimmediately available.
The arrests stem from an FBI-NYPD internal affairs investigationthat began in 2009 when a confidential informant tipped offauthorities that an NYPD officer was interested in making money bytransporting stolen goods. In the months that followed, theinformant and an undercover officer began supplying the defendantsand others cigarettes - purportedly stolen out of state - forresale, the criminal complaint says.
Later in the alleged conspiracy, the defendants agreed totransport 20 weapons from New Jersey to New York using rentedmini-vans, the complaint says. The cache was composed of threeautomatic rifles, a shotgun and 16 handguns, "the majority ofwhich had obliterated or altered serial numbers," it says.
Prosecutors say the officers were unaware that the weapons alsohad "been rendered inoperable by the FBI," the complaint says.The undercover gave four of the police officers about $5,000 eachto help transport the guns, it says.
The arrests come amid speculation that the Bronx districtattorney's office is close to bringing charges in a separate policemisconduct case. A dozen or more officers, including unionrepresentatives, are facing allegations they abused their authorityby helping friends and family avoid paying traffic tickets.
The gun-smuggling complaint describes the confidential informantbeing introduced to one of the accused officers "as a person whocould `fix' the CI's traffic tickets." The officer, it adds,"discussed his willingness to `fix' tickets."
It was unclear whether the ticket-fixing reference has anyconnection to the Bronx investigation. The officers named in thefederal complaint are assigned to commands in Brooklyn.