Philly officer charged with tipping off his half-brother in a drug-trafficking case

Rafael Cordero, on the force for 23 years.
Rafael Cordero, on the force for 23 years.
Posted: August 03, 2012

A veteran Philadelphia police officer was charged Wednesday with giving his half-brother information about a federal investigation into a drug-trafficking organization that the half-brother allegedly worked for.

Rafael Cordero, 51, who has been with the department for 23 years, is accused of tipping off David Garcia about a surveillance camera that federal authorities installed in June 2011 to monitor a garage in Kensington. The garage was used to store drugs, guns, and money related to the Edwin Medina trafficking organization, according to a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday.

Garcia and Medina were charged with drug offenses in January, along with Christian Serrano, the alleged head of another drug organization, and 10 others. Authorities allege that Garcia worked for Medina by keeping a drug corner in Kensington, at Swanson and Somerset Streets, supplied with heroin that he got from the Serrano organization.

Cordero has been suspended for 30 days with intent to dismiss, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said. He is charged with obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal agents.

Cordero was assigned to the criminal-intelligence unit, tasked with gathering intelligence related to criminal activity and passing on that information to other investigative units. The corner of Indiana and Hartville Streets, where the garage was located, was part of the area Cordero was assigned to monitor, authorities said.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI began investigating the two drug organizations in January 2011, and that June, they mounted a camera on a telephone pole near the garage. When Garcia learned of the camera, authorities said, he called Cordero, who replied that he would "check it out" when he got to work.

Within days, according to the indictment, Cordero told Garcia where the camera was pointed and warned him that its surveillance capabilities were strong. That night, authorities said, Medina had three vehicles and several firearms removed from the garage.

The next month, the DEA and FBI raided several properties associated with the organizations, including the garage. After Garcia called Cordero to tell him, Cordero showed up at the garage and started looking in windows. When confronted by other agents, the indictment alleges, he misrepresented his reason for being there and offered to help with the search, but did not provide his name to authorities.

After he left, authorities said, he called Garcia, told him details about the ongoing search, and instructed him, "When you get home, take my picture down." Authorities allege that Cordero also coached Garcia in what to tell authorities when he was questioned about the garage.

"Police officers are sworn to uphold the law, not obstruct it," U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger said. "The defendant's alleged criminal conduct not only could have destroyed a federal investigation, but also could have threatened the safety and lives of federal agents who were investigating dangerous drug dealers."


Contact Allison Steele at 215-854-2641

or asteele@phillynews.com.

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