Police in Florida have been luring big-money drug buyers to a small suburban town from across the United States and as far north as Canada, negotiating sales of cocaine in popular restaurants and then arresting the buyers and confiscating their cash and cars.
According to a six-month investigation by the Sun Sentinel, undercover detectives in Sunrise, Florida, seize millions of dollars from the drug stings, offering cash rewards for the confidential informants who help police attract faraway buyers, including paying one informant more than $800,000 over the past five years.
The paper’s investigation has led the police department to stop the cocaine stings, with Mayor Michael Ryan, who supports the police work, blaming the Sun Sentinel for exposing the department’s strategies and compromising the undercover work.
In announcing the end to the program, Ryan did not address the huge overtime payments the police earned, or the expensive incentives rewarding a network of secret informants, the paper reported. In one instance, a sergeant running the stings collected more than $240,000 in overtime during a three-and-a-half year period.
In a review of payroll data, the Sun Sentinel found a dozen narcotics officers since 2010 have collectively earned $1.2 million in overtime pay.
Police in Sunrise, Florida, have been conducting what are known as “reverse stings” for years, according to the Sun Sentinel, and over the past two years have netted $5.8 million in seized money.