Until yesterday, Lt. Ralph Mata was the picture of an upstanding Miami-Dade cop. He was a top leader in Internal Affairs, spending his days going after corruption and abuse in the ranks. He'd earned exactly one mention in the Miami Herald in his career, for helping to lead a feel-good drug bust in a Carol City sting.
But Mata had a secret double life, prosecutors say. To a violent Dominican gang, he was better known as "The Milk Man" and spent years feeding the drug-runners police intel, buying them guns, protecting shipments and even concocting a murder plot.
The indictment -- brought by federal prosecutors in New Jersey -- is one of the more stunning set of charges against a Dade County police officer. According to the feds, Mata was the inside man for an unnamed drug organization based out of the Dominican Republic. Whatever they needed done in Miami, they say, he'd do it.
He bought a cache of weapons and flew them to the DR on two separate trips, they say, and tipped the gang off inside information about a New Jersey raid that nabbed almost half a million dollars of their drug proceeds. He was a bag man who regularly carried cash for the criminals.
And most eye-opening of all, he helped concoct a murder plot against a rival gang that would involve "his contacts - assassins - wear(ing) uniforms and badges to make it appear as though the two targets of the plot were being pulled over by law enforcement before shooting them," prosecutors say. The hit never happened.
In exchange for all his help, Mata allegedly got thousands in cash and a Rolex watch.
Federal agents arrested the 45-year-old officer yesterday in Miami Gardens and charged him with three felonies for allegedly aiding the drug gang, leaving fellow officers speechless.
Before his arrest, Mata's only mention in the Miami Herald came in 2005, when -- ironically -- he helped a drug raid at a Carol City complex. Here's his tough-on-drugs stance at the time:
This morning on LEO Affairs, a department-specific message board for police officers, commenters bemoaned the arrest for leveling a massive black eye on MDPD, with one visitor exclaiming "this department has become the biggest joke in the nation!"
Mata's scheduled to make his first appearance in federal court this morning.
April 9, 2014
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