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Police officer snared in drug case

January 18, 2008|Scott Glover | Times Staff Writer

A veteran Huntington Park police officer once assigned to a federal anti-drug task force was arrested Thursday on charges that he conspired with others to distribute large quantities of cocaine and marijuana, federal authorities said.

Sgt. Alvaro Murillo, who allegedly was called "The Godfather" by his cohorts, is accused of using his job as a police officer to recruit informants in the drug world, then use them to help him steal narcotics from dealers.

Murillo allegedly arranged for the drugs to be put back on the street for his own profit, according to an indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

One of Murillo's informants, Alberto Del Real-Gallardo, who authorities said was dubbed the "Fat Man," was also arrested Thursday.

In the indictment, prosecutors detailed several instances in which Murillo and Real-Gallardo allegedly recruited informants to gather intelligence on drug dealers and then ripped them off. They were charged with possessing, with intent to distribute, 5 kilograms of cocaine and 340 kilos of marijuana.

"Sgt. Murillo abused his position of trust to line his pockets with money earned from the sale of illicit drugs," U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O'Brien said in a statement. "As a result . . . [he's] facing a lengthy stint in federal prison."

Both defendants face potential life sentences if convicted, because of the quantities of the drugs involved, but are likely to receive lighter punishments.

According to prosecutors, Murillo, 44, of West Covina and Real-Gallardo, 40, of Palmdale would press informants for information about suspected drug dealers who would make good targets.

Murillo would run the information through a law enforcement database to make sure that they were not the subject of a legitimate law enforcement investigation. If they were found to be a suitable target, the defendants would arrange for a meeting at which they would take drugs "by trick, the intervention of defendant Murillo, or other means," the indictment said. The informants would be rewarded with a cut of the drugs or money from the subsequent sale.

They referred to the rip-offs as "black tactic" operations, "coded language signifying they would work the drug trafficker for their own benefit rather than as a legitimate law enforcement case," according to the indictment. In addition to Murillo and Real-Gallardo, the indictment referred to several other "unindicted co-conspirators," one of whom went by the moniker "The Columbian."

In one case, after at least one of the informants they had recruited was secretly working for the government, they allegedly plotted to steal 30 kilos of cocaine from an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent. The plot failed, but the indictment did not explain why.

In 2005 and 2006, Murillo was assigned to a DEA task force. He was suspended from the Huntington Park Police Department in 2006 after authorities became suspicious of his activities.

In court Thursday, prosecutors sought to have Murillo held without bond and submitted excerpts of secretly recorded telephone calls showing that he, among other things, knew that Real-Gallardo had been recruited by Mexican drug dealers to kidnap a man who owed them a $3-million drug debt but failed to report the plot to authorities.

Murillo also appeared worried that a mistress whom he had lent $10,000 would "open her trap about the money" and attract the attention of law enforcement, according to excerpts of a conversation.

Murillo was released on $200,000 bond.

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scott.glover@latimes.com

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