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San Diego officer accused of helping drug traffickers

September 5, 2008 | 12:38 pm


A San Diego police officer has been arraigned in federal court on charges of passing information about drug investigations to drug traffickers, reports Tony Perry.

Juan Hurtado Tapia, 38, was arrested Tuesday by agents of the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration and remains in the federal prison in downtown San Diego pending a bail hearing.

While corruption of law enforcement by drug gangs is common in Tijuana, Tapia's arrest represents a rare allegation of corruption against a San Diego officer. Tapia has been a member of the San Diego Police Department for seven years and was most recently a patrol officer assigned to the area that includes the border.

Wiretaps revealed that Tapia was using his authority as a police officer to conduct background checks on drug traffickers and drug investigations and then passing the information to people involved in drug crimes along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Tapia was charged Wednesday with obstructing an official proceeding, computer fraud and making a false statement to law enforcement officials. He was immediately suspended without pay from the San Diego department.

For more on the drug trade across Latin American, click here.

Go here for more on Mexico
and here for more on our special report  on Mexico's drug war, Mexico Under Siege.

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City

Photo: The new United States-Mexico border fence, seen through the old border fence from Tijuana. Credit: Deborah Bonello / Los Angeles Times.