Judge Sends Former Philadelphia Police Officer to Prison for 15 Years for Obstructing a Federal Drug Investigation
PHILADELPHIA—Rafael Cordero, 53, of Philadelphia, was sentenced today to 180 months in prison for interfering with the federal drug investigation of the Christian Serrano/Edwin Medina Drug Trafficking Organizations (“DTOs”). Cordero, who at the time was a 23-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, provided sensitive law enforcement information about drug investigations to his half-brother, David Garcia, a member of the Serrano/Medina DTOs. Cordero was convicted on December 3, 2013.
Cordero told his half-brother about a surveillance camera put up by the DEA to monitor activities occurring at a garage, located at 538 East Indiana Street in Philadelphia, used by the Medina DTO. When the FBI and DEA executed search warrants at several locations associated with the Serrano/Medina DTOs, including the garage, Cordero, after being informed about the searches by his half-brother and without having any official reason to do so, went to the search location on East Indiana Street and began looking in the windows of the garage. When confronted by law enforcement and brought inside the location, Cordero misrepresented his reason for being at the location and offered to assist with the search. At no time did Cordero provide his name to law enforcement.
Immediately after leaving the search location, Cordero placed a call to David Garcia and shared with him, among other things, how many law enforcement officers were conducting the search and what areas of the garage they were searching. Garcia removed a DVR tape that law enforcement had inadvertently failed to seize during the search and viewed it to see if Cordero was recorded at the garage at the time of the search, which he was. At no time did Cordero inform law enforcement that David Garcia had possession of the video tape.
When questioned by federal agents, Cordero denied giving information to Garcia regarding the surveillance camera, denied knowing of anyone associated with the Indiana Street garage and denied having spoken to David Garcia about the search at the garage.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond ordered a $5,000 fine and three years of supervised release. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Philadelphia Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kevin Brenner and Maureen McCartney.