Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Hitmen to kingpins – real-life bent cops who make Line of Duty lot look tame

Forget Line of Duty's bent coppers – these real-life corrupt officers will have you shouting much worse than "mother of God!"

Tonight, avid viewers of the hit BBC show could finally discover the identity of the fourth "H".

The mystery villain heads up the OCG (Organised Crime Gang) and has influence inside the police force too.

But as is often the way, real-life can be much stranger and shocking than far-fetched fiction.

Real-life crooked cops may well have provided the inspiration for some of the characters in Line of Duty. After all, a fair few have been known to bend the rules for their own ill-gotten gains.

As fans continue to speculate on who exactly who "H" is, here are some of the real-life corrupt officers who make their TV counterparts look positively tame.

The crooked chief

Britain's most controversial police chief, Scotland Yard commander Ali Dizaei, was first convicted of framing young businessman Waad al-Baghdadi in a street row in 2010.

Mr al-Baghdadi approached Dizaei and asked for £600 he was owed for building a website showcasing his career, press interviews and speeches.

This angered Dizaei, who had just eaten a meal with his wife after attending a ceremony at New Scotland Yard for new recruits.

The officer confronted the younger man in a nearby side street where a scuffle took place and Mr al-Baghdadi was roughly arrested and handcuffed.

Dizaei told Mr al-Baghdadi he would "f*** up your life" and had "10 witnesses" who would back him up.

In one of two 999 calls, Dizaei asked an operator for "urgent assistance" before starting to arrest Mr al-Baghdadi.

When officers arrived, Dizaei handed them the metal mouthpiece of a shisha pipe, held on Mr al-Baghdadi's key ring, and claimed he had been stabbed with it.

But a doctor at Hammersmith police station concluded that two red marks on the officer's torso were probably self-inflicted and did not match the pipe.

Dizaei told colleagues he had been attacked, leaving Mr al-Baghdadi in custody for 24 hours and ultimately facing prosecution.

When Mr al-Baghdadi was told he would not face any charge, he complained about his treatment and Dizaei's web of deceit slowly unravelled.

Dizaei was jailed for four years, but the conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal a year later.

After the second trial he received a three-year prison sentence at London's Southwark Crown Court. This was reduced by the 15 months he had already spent behind bars and he has been released.

A man on the inside

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PC Stephen Cloney, 41, was jailed after Anti-Corruption Unit detectives discovered he had been selling sensitive police intelligence to gangsters for several years.

Among a litany of offences, Cloney would tip off his criminal contacts about addresses where it was suspected cannabis or other drugs were being stashed – so they could plan to steal the illicit goods.

Although there was no evidence Cloney was involved in planning any raids – his tips led to shocking violence including a stabbing and a man having a gun thrust into his face.

Cloney had spent some of his early career serving in the Metropolitan Police in London – where he was described as an “exceptional” officer and was involved in responding to the 2005 Oval Tube terrorist attack.

According to David McLachlan, QC, who prosecuted the case: "This activity appears to have started in April 2015 which coincided with PC Cloney being moved out of the Dedicated Source Unit (DSU), leading him to become disillusioned with life as a police officer.

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“It also coincided with him being in a poor financial position; the evidence shows that from April 2015 he received regular cash deposits into his account, totalling £8,055, and he began to live a cash-rich lifestyle."

Detectives uncovered a jaw-dropping list of corrupt activities spanning from 2015 to his arrest in 2019, which included:

  • Sending messages to his alleged drug-dealing cousins about a planned police raid on a relative's home, giving them chance to clear any illicit items
  • Trying to find the "grass" in a high-level drugs trafficking gang subject to a major police operation
  • Tip-offs that resulted in an 81-year-old pensioner's home being burgled in one of at least nine reported burglaries or raids resulting from his activities
  • Sold addresses that were raided by masked men who pointed a gun at the occupants

He was jailed for five years at Manchester Crown Court after pleading guilty to the relatively new offence of corrupt or improper exercise of police powers and privileges by a constable.

UK's most senior corrupt cop

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The former deputy head of the Merseyside Police drugs squad Elmore Davies was jailed for five years in 1998 for his part in a plot to undermine the trial of a man accused of firearms offences.

The force veteran has had the unenviable title of becoming what is believed to be the most senior police officer convicted for corruption offences in UK history.

DCI Davies, a senior figure in the Force's drugs squad and described as a "copper's copper", had a long and storied career which even included two years on secondment investigating drugs cartels in the Turks and Caicos Islands – including the brother in law of Colombian drugs lord Pablo Escobar.

But back in Merseyside, three months away from retirement and reportedly increasingly embittered, his friendship with Gladiators star Mike Ahearne proved to be his undoing.

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In 1998 DCI Davies, then 50, was jailed alongside Ahearne, aka The Warrior, and underworld henchman Tony Bray for corruption and perverting the course of justice.

The three men had been convicted of attempting to derail the prosecution of Philip Glennon Jnr, the brother-in-law of Merseyside's most notorious drugs lord Curtis Warren.

Glennon Jnr had been arrested for firing off gunshots at a bouncer who kicked him out of the Venue Club in Green Lane, Tuebrook, on July 14, 1996.

According to reports at the time, the bouncer was allegedly paid by associates of Warren for his silence – but the incident had been witnessed by a PC Gary Titterington.

Davies and Ahearne were unanimously convicted after a seven-week trial.

The head of a $1bn criminal empire

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Arturo Durazo Moreno – dubbed 'El Negro' – was chief of police in Mexico City and took home barely $1,000 (£600) a month during his six-year tenure.

But the crooked cop pocketed more than $1billion (£600million) through smuggling, trafficking drugs and arms, commissions on police purchases – including uniforms vehicles and fuel – and bribes paid by all police just to keep their jobs.

He also collected the pay of 3,000 imaginary agents and charged the police department for any expenses accrued by himself, his wife and his lovers – all with the protection of his childhood friend, Mexican president José López Portillo.

López Portillo made the police boss a five-star general, despite 'El Negro' never serving in the army, and allowed him to close roads when he travelled so his convoy could dodge the traffic.

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But Moreno met his downfall when José López Portillo, the President of Mexico and his childhood friend, ended his term in office in 1982.

The Mexican government later seized the police chief’s properties and the Parthenon of Zihuatanejo, whose tunnels have since been sealed, remains in public hands to this day.

In January, 1984, he was finally charged in absentia with tax evasion.

Two months later he was also charged with extortion, smuggling and possession of illegal weapons and the government formally sought his extradition from the US.

He was arrested in the US territory of Puerto Rico later that year, extradited and sentenced to 25 years in a Mexican jail – though he would only serve eight.

Cops turned mob hitmen

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Louis Eppolito, 57, and Stephen Caracappa, 64, worked as hitmen for the Luchese family in New York between 1986 and 1990.

They were involved in the assassination of at least 11 people for the Mob while serving as detectives.

The bent cops also sold drugs, intimidated witnesses, carried out kidnappings and helped Mafia bosses with money laundering scams.

Judge Jack Weinstein told them: "This is the bloodiest, most violent betrayal of the police badge this city has ever seen.

"They gathered and sold information to the Mob. They kidnapped for the Mob. They murdered for the Mob."

Prosecutors said the two detectives stopped the victims' cars at traffic lights.

The pair were also found guilty of kidnapping, drug dealing and obstruction of justice.

Brutal bank manager kidnap plot

PC Mesut Karakas, 23, was ringleader of a gang which planned to snatch and torture a bank manager and his wife in the hope of stealing £100,000.

But he was unaware Scotland Yard detectives had bugged his car in a surveillance operation similar to TV show The Wire.

Transcripts of the recordings reveal chilling details about his plan as he faced jail for a savage street attack. Speaking in gangster slang, he called friends "bruv" and "blood", even referring to Met colleagues as "Feds".

In one conversation, he said: "When it comes to taking them out from their yard, yeah… I say we put them in duvets and s***. We carry them on the shoulders of two people."

A few days later, the officer told an accomplice: "If we get him in the house at 5.30, we're only gonna have maybe an hour and-a-half, blood, at most to be questioning him, and s***".

The plan was foiled when detectives arrested him and his gang in October 2009.

Raids on their homes in East London and Essex recovered balaclavas, masking tape, a list of banks and a van with a false reg.

Karakas was jailed for 13 years in 2010.

Helping a fugitive

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Inspector General Napoleon Bonaparte removed a “red notice” from Interpol, which alerted the authorities that Indonesian fugitive Djoko Soegiarto Tjandra was wanted for the embezzlement of Bank Bali funds.

Magistrates at the Jakarta Corruption Court found him guilty of accepting bribes of around £100,000 to remove the fugitive from Interpol's wanted list in March this year

This manipulation allowed Tjandra to return to Indonesia after being on the run for 11 years.

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