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Miami internal affairs cop arrested on cocaine trafficking charges

By Kevin Gray

MIAMI (Reuters) - An internal affairs officer with the Miami-Dade Police Department has been charged with helping drug smugglers and orchestrating a murder-for-hire plot to have assassins dressed as cops kill their rivals, officials said.

Ralph Mata, 45, appeared in a federal court in Miami on Wednesday, a day after he was arrested in connection with a scheme to smuggle cocaine from the Dominican Republic to New Jersey and elsewhere, according to federal prosecutors.

Mata, a 22-year law-enforcement veteran known as "The Milk Man," discussed a plot with the drug dealers to arrange for two people to wear police uniforms and badges and to kill two of their rivals, according to a criminal complaint.

Mata said he would pay the assassins $150,000 per target, the complaint said. In meetings with the would-be assassins, Mata gave them a down payment of $5,000 and a box of cigars for their "willingness" to participate in the plot, according to the

complaint.

The drug dealers ultimately decided not to move forward with the plot, but Mata was paid for setting up the meetings, the complaint said.

Mata also allegedly offered to provide security to the drug leaders and purchased several firearms and transported them in a carry-on suitcase on flights to the Dominican Republic.

He also helped to transport the drug dealers' money and was paid thousands of dollars for his help and a Rolex watch valued at $10,000, the complaint said.

Bruce Fleisher, an attorney representing Mata, said his client "wants to clear his name."

"I look forward to finding out what the evidence is so we can vigorously defend this case," Fleisher said. "They are serious allegations, but all serious allegations need due diligence and investigating and that's what we'll do."

Mata did not make any comments during his court appearance. He is scheduled to be arraigned on April 23.

He also faces other charges, including aiding and abetting a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, conspiring to distribute cocaine and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.

The narcotics charges each carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.

(Additional reporting by Zachary Fagenson in Miami; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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