Former Bakersfield, CA police officers Damacio Diaz and Patrick Mara are facing prison time after investigators found that they were at the center of a police corruption scandal involving meth, cash, and ties to the Mexican Mafia. The two cops had been specially selected for a joint drug task force to control the large amount of methamphetamine in the area. But the two cops “became the drug traffickers themselves,” acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert said. “Their actions risked their fellow officers' safety for greed.”
The scandal began when Diaz began accepting bribes from Mexican Mafia member Guillermo Magallanes, a drug dealer who was acting as a police informant. Before long, the two cops were providing Magallanes with inside information about investigations and stealing meth from drug dealers during police traffic stops.
Eventually, Magallanes was arrested, and informed law enforcement about Diaz's illegal activity. Diaz, in turn, implicated his partner and other members of the department. “He gave them information to clean up the department,” Diaz's lawyer, David Torres, said. After both an internal and a federal investigation, all other officers were cleared of crimes. “We concluded no officers were complicit in joining Diaz and Mara,” Talbert said.
Following these revelations, Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green had to review 87 cases that the corrupt cops were involved in between 2011 and 2014. For 64 of these cases, Green is sending letters to the defendants, informing them that their convictions may have been tainted by the involvement of the corrupt cops. “If they took statements, seized evidence or wrote reports, we will be sending letters to defense attorneys or defendants that represented themselves,” Green said. These defendants could now seek motions for retrials, or withdraw their pleas.
Diaz pleaded guilty to bribery, drug trafficking, and tax evasion, and Mara admitted selling meth. Both cops will serve five years in federal prison.