The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) -- A drug courier at the heart of a police
corruption scandal pleaded guilty to a narcotics conspiracy charge
Monday after signing a deal with prosecutors.
Christian Joel Hernandez told a judge in federal court in Brooklyn
that he had been shuttling cocaine and money among Brooklyn,
Manhattan and Queens for Colombian drug dealers for at least three
He was caught in November, when a federal surveillance team
spotted him carrying $169,000 in cash through Queens. The
surveillance was interrupted when the federal agents spotted police
Detective Julio Vasquez and his former partner, Thomas Rachko,
stopping Hernandez and taking his money.
The agents determined that Rachko and Vasquez were not working in
any official police capacity. The veteran detectives were arrested,
and at least 10 other current and former police officers, all
one-time members of the same narcotics task force, have been
implicated in the theft of drugs and drug money.
Facing a federal indictment, Vasquez and Rachko began cooperating
with investigators. The widening investigation has embarrassed the
nation's largest police department and threatened to tarnish its war
Vasquez and Rachko pleaded innocent last month to charges
including money laundering, narcotics conspiracy and lying to federal
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Prosecutors and Hernandez' attorney declined to comment on the
terms of his deal.