The dealer promised up to $3,700 for protection while he bought and sold drugs, an offer the FBI says 44 police officers, sheriff's deputies and prison guards gladly accepted.
The dealer, it turned out, was an undercover FBI agent making bogus sales. In a huge bust Wednesday, authorities arrested the officers and charged them all with conspiracy to distribute cocaine.The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years to life in prison.
"Today has been a very difficult day in law enforcement," said Van Harp, the agent in charge of the FBI's Cleveland office. The probe "really turned back on law enforcement itself."