MIAMI — Two former Miami police officers were arrested Thursday and charged with stealing part of a half-ton cocaine seizure, bringing to 11 the number of officers arrested or relieved of duty this year in an internal probe of police corruption.
The two men arrested Thursday had been fired from the force earlier this year after they refused to take a test to determine whether they had used drugs, Chief Clarence Dickson told reporters.
Nine other city police officers were arrested or relieved of duty in 1985 after allegations ranging from drug use to stealing money from the police evidence safe.
Dickson said internal investigations of the 1,500-member force were continuing, with the help of the Professional Review and Investigative Detail, a group of 10 veteran officers formed last October to augment the internal affairs force.
"I think most of the damage has been done . . . . They've gone underground. But we're going to dig them out," Dickson said of corruption. "There is less going on now because of the heat that is going on."
Dickson said the two men were arrested Thursday after department investigators found evidence that about 150 pounds of cocaine was missing from a 1,000-pound shipment.
On May 31, police officers seized 850 pounds from a boat docked at a Miami River marina, Dickson said. Police investigators soon began receiving information that "a significant part" of the shipment--an additional 150 pounds--was missing, Dickson said.
He refused to give further details of the case.
Arrested at Homes
Former Officers Felix A. Beruvides, 28, and Armando Lopez, 24, were charged with conspiracy to traffic in cocaine, armed trafficking in cocaine, armed burglary and grand theft. The men, arrested at their homes, were in custody Thursday at the Metro-Dade County jail.
Beruvides, a five-year patrol veteran, was fired from the force in August after a citizen reported seeing him take drugs at a local restaurant, Officer Reginald Roundtree, a police spokesman, said. He said that Beruvides was fired when he refused to take a urinalysis test after the citizen's complaint.
Police said that Lopez, who had been a patrol officer since 1982, was arrested in late October by Metro-Dade police officers for traffic violations. Lopez was allegedly traveling 120 m.p.h. in a Porsche on city streets when stopped. Police said that about $1,100 in cash was found in the car and one Metro-Dade officer said he smelled marijuana in the car.
Refusal on Test
Lopez was fired in November, also after refusing to take a urinalysis test, Roundtree said.
Miami-area police have been plagued with allegations of drug use and other illegal activities in the last several months. In the Miami Police Department, two other officers were arrested earlier this month on cocaine charges, Roundtree said.
Five other Miami police officers were relieved of duty, with pay, on Dec. 10 as an investigation continued into the deaths of three men found floating in the Miami River last summer. Witnesses told police that the men had been seen talking to "men in blue" before their deaths.