April 26, 2003
Dallas Officer Is Indicted in Case Involving Dozens of Setup Arrests
ALLAS, April 25 — A decorated undercover narcotics officer has been indicted on charges of civil rights violations and making false statements in connection with a fake drug scheme that landed dozens of innocent people in jail, the Department of Justice announced today.
The officer, Senior Cpl. Mark Delapaz, was charged with five counts of deprivation of rights under color of law and one count of making false statements to federal officials.
Corporal Delapaz, who faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted, was free on a personal recognizance bond.
He has been on paid administrative leave since January 2002, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation began investigating how paid confidential informers were able to set up dozens of innocent people, mostly Mexican immigrants, on drug charges. The evidence turned out to be ground gypsum or some other legal substance.
The fake drugs, which were described as cocaine or methamphetamines, were planted on the victims in investigations run by Corporal Delapaz and Officer Eddie Herrera, who is also on paid leave.
Drug charges against more than 80 people were dismissed by the Dallas County district attorney's office.
Prosecutors said three ex-informers have pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate civil rights and are cooperating with the F.B.I. investigation.
Police Department officials said Corporal Delapaz would remain on paid leave until the internal affairs division finished its investigation.
There was no reply to a telephone message left by The Associated Press with Corporal Delapaz's lawyer, Bob Baskett.
Mr. Baskett has said his client did nothing wrong.