We forget sometimes that beating, or summarily executing, innocent people is only one way a cop can be bad. This week, via a federal drug investigation conducted jointly by multiple agencies, we were reminded of another way: cops who are drug dealers.
The law and the drug dealer being the same person is something we think of being in movies about third world countries. But not here in America, right?
Fresno Deputy Police Chief Keith Foster was arrested this week on charges of conspiracy to distribute heroin, oxycodone, and marijuana. Along with him, five of his alleged co-conspirators were arrested as well – some with extensive rap sheets. Foster has been a cop since 1986 in Fresno and was promoted to Captain in 2005. A few years later he was promoted to Deputy Police Chief where he has served for the past eight years.
His boss, Police Chief Jerry Dyer has been co-operating fully with authorities since he was alerted of the investigation shortly after the arrests according to the lead investigator on the case.
Also arrested earlier in the week were Rafael Guzman, 41, who is charged with conspiring with Foster to distribute and/or possess with the intent to distribute heroin; Randy Flowers, 48, conspiring to distribute and/or possess with the intent to distribute oxycodone; and Jennifer Donabedian, 35, conspiring to distribute and/or possess with the intent to distribute marijuana. They will appear in federal court on Friday. Iran Dennis “Denny” Foster, 44, and Sarah Ybarra, 37, were in custody later Thursday. Their court date has not been set as of this writing.
Police were able to nab Foster through a series of intercepted communications. They had phone calls where Foster would call various partners and use “code words” to describe what drugs were needed. The criminal complaint filed details some of the transactions.
For example when talking with one alleged co-conspirator, Randy Flowers;
Keith Foster told Flowers in a December 2014 phone call that he had “100 of those things” for Flowers. Foster picked up a prescription for 100 oxycodone tablets at a Rite Aid pharmacy drive-thru and then drove his BMW to Flowers’ home.
Also in December of 2014, agents intercepted a phone call between Keith Foster and Raphael Guzman, another co-conspirator with a long rap sheet. Captain Foster told Guzman he knew someone who was trying to “get the black,” referring to black tar heroin. The conversation goes on with lines like “what’s the ticket?” (referring to prices) and references to china white type heroin as well.
One has to wonder, since 1986, how many people has Foster arrested and sent to jail for doing what he allegedly was doing on a daily basis? Did Foster take other drug dealers down to eliminate competition? Did he use his drugs to set up otherwise innocent people over the years? Are there people sitting in jail today, or even not with us anymore, because of Foster’s corruption? There are likely so many more questions we will probably never get the answers to.
When law enforcement officers and the drug dealers are the same people, can we finally admit the Drug War is a complete and utter failure? Until we do, we will never find better solutions.