California narcotics detective arrested on bribery and drug charges

California narcotics detective arrested on bribery and drug charges

[JURIST] Narcotics detective Damacio Diaz of the Bakersfield Police Department (BPD) [official website] in California was arrested [press release] on Friday on charges [indictment, PDF] of bribery, drug trafficking, obstruction and filing false tax returns. The 16-count indictment, announced by US Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner [official profile] in charge of the investigation, claims that Diaz, “in exchange for bribes from the dealer, provided the dealer with intelligence on law enforcement practices and activities, disclosed the names and identities of police informants, tipped the dealer off as to police investigations and attempted to provide the dealer protection from search, seizure, arrest and prosecution.” The indictment goes on to also charge him with “bribery, retaining seized narcotics on multiple occasions for his own unlawful gain, disclosing contents of a wiretap investigation and two counts of filing false tax returns.” Diaz plead not guilty [Reuters report] to all charges in federal court on Friday and was released on $200,000 bond. He faces a potential sentence of life in prison if convicted.

Diaz, 43, gained fame recently after he was portrayed in the Disney film McFarland, USA [IMDb] earlier this year. The movie tells the story of a high school cross country team from McFarland, California and its coach Jim White. Diaz was a member of the team, which eventually went on to win a state championship. He has been a member [AP report] of the BPD for 17 years and has been on paid administrative leave for several months. He had previously held [ABC30 report] the position of Sheriff of Tulare county, and for the past four years has been working narcotics for the BPD.