A city narcotics cop betrayed his badge and used inside knowledge to run drugs for a Bronx-based cocaine and heroin ring, authorities said Friday.
Detective James Calderon, a 13-year NYPD veteran, was arrested and arraigned yesterday on charges of drug possession and conspiracy.
"It wasn't me. That's it," a red-eyed Calderon, 44, told reporters as he pleaded not guilty in Manhattan Criminal Court. "It's all a big mixup. ... It's all a bad rap."
But prosecutors said Calderon was a high-priced drug courier for two Bronx dealers, brothers Luis and Jorge Mendoza.
Calderon - who has made more than 200 arrests in his career - allegedly ferried drugs for the ring from December 2004 through January 2007.
Calderon smuggled a total of 8 kilos of cocaine from New York to Virginia, where his estranged wife and two children live, on two trips in late 2004 and early 2005, authorities said.
Investigators discovered the ring after Bronx cops impounded a stolen Honda Odyssey minivan in a traffic stop on April 30, 2006.
Calderon went to the 44th Precinct stationhouse the next day and tried to get the car released. Cops refused and later found a kilo of heroin stashed in a hidden compartment under the car's backseat.
Calderon had worked as a narcotics cop in the Bronx and was later reassigned to Bronx Criminal Court, authorities said. His drug runs were allegedly made on his own time.
The cop was busted along with his girlfriend, alleged fellow drug courier Patricia Vargas, 31, at his mother's apartment in Mount Hope, the Bronx, Friday morning.
Jorge Mendoza, 37, is already in custody in an unrelated case.
The cop had a troubled reputation in the NYPD even before the drug allegations surfaced: He showed up at buy-and-bust drug operations drunk, police sources said.
Calderon had been placed on modified duty more than a year ago as the Internal Affairs Bureau checked out the drinking allegation.
His mother, Emerita, 67, who works in a New Jersey clothing factory, acknowledged her son hit the bottle hard at one point and had to go to rehab.
But she denied he is a drug runner.
"I'm not ashamed because he has done nothing wrong," she said. "He must have been set up. If he was dealing drugs, we'd have money in the bank and fancy furniture. My son doesn't even have a car."