3 Miami police officers face federal drug charges

Cops accused of taking cash to protect drug traffickers, money launderers

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor, Ian Margol

MIAMI - Three Miami police officers are facing federal drug charges, police announced Tuesday.

Schonton Harris, Kelvin Harris and James Archibald are charged with conspiring to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

According to a criminal affidavit, Schonton Harris, a 20-year veteran of the police force, agreed to accept cash payments in exchange for protecting the activities of drug traffickers and money launderers. The affidavit said he recruited Kelvin Harris and Archibald to participate in the scheme. 

"Instead of ridding our streets of drugs which are ravaging our communities, these officers were willing to profit from money laundering and drug trafficking enterprises," said Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for Southern District of Florida.

The FBI said Schonton Harris was paid a total of $17,000, while Kelvin Harris earned $10,000 and Archibald made $6,500.

Federal agents began investigating the three officers after Colina received a citizen complaint.

Agents said the people the officers thought were drug dealers were actually undercover agents or cooperating witnesses. In one instance, investigators said, Schonton Harris was paid $1,500 for providing an undercover FBI agent a Miami police uniform and badge that would be used by a hit man.

"I hope these arrests serve as a warning to any officer who would break their oath, shame our ranks and dishonor our badge," Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina said. "There is no refuge for you here. If you are corrupt, we will find you and you will answer for your crimes."

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