SWEETWATER, Fla. – Sweetwater Police Chief Placido Diaz said he is in disbelief over the allegations that a former police sergeant and former detective had alleged roles in a criminal operation that lasted decades.
Sgt. Reny Garcia, 46, has been fired from the department after he and William Garcia, 42, who is already serving a federal prison sentence, are accused engaging in racketeering activity that includes "battery, theft, fraud and burglary."
Investigators said the pair specifically targeted foreign-born people with limited knowledge of the English language and the U.S. legal system.
They are being accused of stealing from victims, beating them and waterboarding in one case.
"The details are appalling," Diaz said. "I have never encountered anything that egregious."
The arrests came after the 2013 arrest of former Sweetwater Detective Octavio Olieu, which was captured on dashcam video.
Olieu allegedly played a role in a bribery scheme that led to the conviction of Manny Marono, the former mayor of Sweetwater who was sentenced to more than three years in prison.
The chief and the mayor assured residents that steps have been taken to reform the department.
"It was hard and difficult to change the culture within the department of the people who were instilled, created and trained within the same culture," Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez said.