Miami-Dade Police Lured Robbers to the Redland, Then Shot Them

Miami-Dade Police Lured Robbers to the Redland, Then Shot Them

Roger Gonzalez Jr. guides the car full of thieves through the Redland, past the groves of mango trees glowing blood red against the evening sky, toward a beige building with a large yard and a black Mercedes-Benz parked in front. He slows down. His father, Roger Sr., calmly checks the ammunition in his handgun. So do the three other passengers. They've all done this before.

Rosendo Betancourt — a skinny, high-strung ex-con only ten months out of prison — points to the house. There are 20 pounds of yerba (marijuana) inside, he says in Spanish. Then, for the sake of the lone non-Cuban in the car — a broad-chested, 36-year-old African-American named Antonio Andrew — Betancourt translates: "The shit is in the freezer."

Gonzalez's father barks out the plan: Cut the chainlink fence, get in the house, tie up the pot growers, and steal the $60,000 drug stash. Junior parks the getaway car on a side street and waits behind the wheel. The four others slip ski masks over their faces. Dressed in black, they slip through a mango nursery and approach from the south. They slice through the fence with bolt cutters. Then, weapons in hand, they creep toward the house.

Antonio Andrew celebrates his son A.J.'s first birthday in 1995.
Courtesy of Ladonna Florence
Antonio Andrew celebrates his son A.J.'s first birthday in 1995.
The Redland house where Miami-Dade police ambushed the robbers.
Michael E. Miller
The Redland house where Miami-Dade police ambushed the robbers.

Andrew silently sucks the swampy air through his mask. The only sound is the squelch of his sneakers sinking into the rain-drenched lawn. The four thieves drift through the trees like wraiths.

But hidden among the shadows, dozens of gunmen follow the intruders' every step through the scopes of Colt M4 Commando assault rifles. The robbers don't know it, but their stealth is an illusion; their surprise attack, a cruel joke.

Suddenly, an unmarked van bursts through the back gate with a crack of snapping metal, tears across the lawn, and slides to a halt. A half-dozen men in black gear jump out, shouting. The panicked gangsters scatter. A volley of gunshots explodes, rapid-fire like a string of fireworks.

By the time the ambush ends, the four robbers' lifeless bodies lie scattered across the lawn. Andrew made it the farthest. His bullet-riddled corpse is only a few yards from the fence.

It was a ruthless, professional hit. But the killers weren't pot growers protecting their contraband; they were cops. The whole robbery had been a setup. And Betancourt — a "cooperating defendant" who had helped authorities lay the trap — was among the four dead on the grass.

The June 30, 2011 sting was one of the bloodiest police operations in Miami history. It was also one of the most controversial. Police have yet to issue a report but admit the robbers never fired their weapons. Betancourt's family claimed police had betrayed the informant. Cops blamed him for disobeying orders.

"He was told not to participate in this action at all," Miami-Dade Police Department Director James Loftus said coldly. The chief showed even less sympathy for the other dead men, arguing they were responsible for a string of violent home invasions. "This group was prone to... duct-taping their victims and even torturing [them]," he said. "This is one criminal enterprise that has been interdicted and dealt with."

Gonzalez's gang was, indeed, armed and dangerous. But a New Times investigation raises questions about the deadly operation that cops used to take down the group. The operation was the third, nearly identical sting to go horribly wrong in the past six years, leaving seven suspects dead, apparently with no shots fired at police. While cops claim the setup was the only way to take out the thieves' savvy ringleader, Roger Gonzalez Sr., they neglect to mention he was out of jail only because he'd worked as their informant.

The other men killed in the raid weren't all the murderous felons Loftus portrayed. Betancourt was trying to turn his life around by ending Gonzalez's crime spree, and Andrew wasn't a violent criminal but a simple-minded car thief. A stray bullet to the head as a child had left him mentally impaired and easily impressionable, his family says. When money from a lawsuit mysteriously disappeared, he turned to a life of petty crime.

"I knew Antonio like the back of my hand," says Ladonna Florence, the mother of his child. "He wasn't a saint. But can't nobody tell me that he was dangerous."

Above all, the bloody, botched operation calls into question the Miami-Dade Police Department's tactics and whether cops were too quick to pull the trigger.

"The police chose the perfect spot, led him there, and then shot him," Ladonna says. "I feel like this was premeditated murder."

It was a February evening in 1988 when Antonio Andrew was shot for the first time.

The handsome 12-year-old was playing basketball with friends in Sherbondy Park, a dusty playground next to Opa-locka City Hall, when a fight broke out nearby. A young man called "Twin," mumbling and shouting erratically, had wandered into the park's karate dojo. Stacey Hill, a postman and part-time karate instructor, had thrown Twin out of his class. An hour later, however, he was back — and angry.

"He's coming," shouted one of Hill's students, bursting through the dojo's doors. "And he's got a gun."

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110 comments
concerned
concerned

So the news says "something went deadly wrong". Yup wrong!

Because I say "something went definitely RIGHT!!!!

No offense to anyone, but no one knows our story which was never published.

These 4 animals, brutally broke into a home in Broward County, woke my daughters up from their sleep (not to  mention my baby had just came home from college to visit) and terrorized them for over an hour, zip tied their hands and feet, covered their head with pillow cases at gun point and stole everything. But my GOD took care of them and kept them safe. I only feel bad for the children and innocent families left behind who had no idea how cruel and crazy these guys were.They were ruthless and becoming more violent, even cutting a man's private part. Not a day goes by I don't that GOD for giving my girls a 2nd chance.

JUSTICE was served!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-A Loving Mom

concerned
concerned

So the news says "something went deadly wrong". Yup wrong! but I say "something went definitely RIGHT!!!!  No one knows the truth. These 4 animals, brutally broke into a home in Broward County and took my daughters (waking them up from their sleep; not to  mention my baby had just came home from college to visit) and terrorized them for over an hour, then zip tied their hands and feet, cover their head with pillow cases at gun point and only GOD took care of them and kept them safe. JUSTICE was served!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I only feel bad for the children and innocent families left behind who had no idea how cruel and crazy these guys were.They were ruthless and becoming more violent, cutting a man's private part.  I bet the investigation skipped that part.

-A Loving Mom

Wraith77
Wraith77

Yeah ok cops and criminals doing their thing. So all i'm saying is you reap what you sow. So yeah the cops feel like badasses right now . Just imagine one of those guys that got set up finding one of those officers with their kids and wife , then that guy pulls a double barrel shotgun and points at wifey and or kids . Now big badass has to explain well me and my bro cops did this and that. Now jr is dead . Yes i get home invasions and the torturing. But who are the cops to play executioner. I mean if the affected family does ok cool eye for an eye . Now if the police got them selves involved in it then suffer the consequences , so today you might feel me and my cop buddies are badasses yeah baby we killed them idiots. But maybe one day soon or later that person or their family might have a bone to pick with you and or your family.

smileyallen96
smileyallen96

The soldiers came to John the baptist and asked him what must we do to be saved? He said do no man violence and be satisfied with your wages. Satan showed Jesus all the Kingdoms on earth and told Him these were given to me, (via Adam and Eve sinning) and I will give them to you if you worship me. Apostle Paul said 'for we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against spiritual wickedness in high places'. This is a good example of Satan's influence over people in government which is why no government of man existing now will survive after His soon return. He will without hesitation dismantle everyone including this one. The holy angels will police the world and not men. These police are under the Devil's control. No badge qualifies as for getting into Heaven. You are being decieved.

Mcrunner
Mcrunner

Awesome. Simply awesome. Every single one of those officers deserves a medal and a promotion.

Enough
Enough

Why should any hard-working, taxpayer, who respects the law feel sorry for these criminals. If they had not gone to that house trying to steal 20 pounds of weed, they wouldn't be dead. If they had chose to do something else other than break into someone's property carrying guns, they would be alive. They made the choices they made and they wound up dead for it. Too bad. Innocent people are hurt by people like these four guys on a daily basis and they don't get a 6 page article. Why are these guys so special? Because it was a police sting? Because they were shot by cops? Four criminals, with records, carrying guns? Come on New Times, really?

Terrence Sturrup
Terrence Sturrup

dem police are devils.they chase my brother to lake in weston and kill dem boys in relands.too many my doys drown in da canals from police chase.

Productive member of Society
Productive member of Society

As you can see it appears that your attempt at drawing some sort of sympathy for Mr. Andrew has fallen on deaf ears. There are lots of people who grow up impoverished and manage to find a way out of the situation to become productive members of society. As much time as Antonio spent in jail he still found time time produce some off spring to carry on his lagacy.

"Antonio tried to be a good father," Ladonna says. "But how good of a relationship can you have when you keep going to jail?"

Yet you expect us to feel sorry for this guy. What because he managed to go 7 years without getting arrested? Congradu-F@#$%^G-lations. Here's the only really important question you need to ask; Was the world a better place with him in it? Why don't we ask some of his victims and I think you'll get your answer.

EUSKO4
EUSKO4

and if that doesn't work: U.S. Constitution 2nd Amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms...ENOUGH SAID....

Eusko4
Eusko4

THE THIN BLUE LINE....IT PROTECTS "US" FROM "THEM" ...... ENOUGH SAID...GOOD RIDDANCE

Rkemp377
Rkemp377

They have guns, they are sneaking through a yard to do to someone else what was done to them. The one who was the informant was there for the same reasons, steal and make money. His baby's mother says she knows he was bad but he wasn't that bad. To you maybe because you had his kid, what about all the lives he has ruined. "What comes around goes around!"

Nolan
Nolan

I love how it says they were killed "despite never firing at police." So basically the New Times wants the thugs to have a fighting chance at killing a cop before the cops can shoot them. Michael Miller is a thug lover

Ja'Mookus Shabazz
Ja'Mookus Shabazz

I'm just not seeing the downside to this. The cops can be a pain in the ass sometimes, for sure, but these extra-judicial punishments don't get me all that worked up when they get it right. This isn't the Fifties, and these aren't guys out stealing hubcaps, violent crews and street gangs should be exterminated. If it needs to be done on the margins of the law, so be it.

westof107
westof107

Typical of Miami New Times to berate the police department for actually doing something good for Miami. I'm not saying Miami Dade cops are saints, but those criminals deserved this. Has your home ever been invaded by gunmen? Its horrific.

dbcooper
dbcooper

i see we have some very disturbed folks here today.

Thetruth
Thetruth

I don't see the issue here. If you were armed, breaking into a house, and the cops showed up and you scattered while shooting, is it not reasonable to assume you would be shot at? They deserved it.

william
william

make most drugs legal and their value to theifs and murders will be nill, spin off would be less prisoners and cops for tax payers to pay !

william
william

There should be billboards put up of there bullit ridled bodies , Or even better put their heads on pikes at every project in south florida for a warning to all dirtbags !

william
william

there should be billboards put up with pictures of there shotup bodies on display for all would be theifs ......... I say put there heads on pikes at each south florida project !

BlackjackChamp
BlackjackChamp

These dead armed robbers broke into your homes people, tortured people, cut one guy's balls with a knife and used a hot curling iron to get people to give up their property. And here is pages and thousands of words written about the 'bad cops' killing the 'misunderstood armed robbers'.

Your communities are messed up, full of dealers, pimps, and thugs who you protect while they rob, rape, hurt and murder you. This reporter could have written about many things, but chose to stir up anger against cops for eliminating 7 violent, (yes his mama said he flipped out often), felons who each did decades in prison and had lengthy arrest records.

And whoever wrote this garbage , god forbid if a rape gang breaks into your home and tortures its occupants, at least you can feel good that your journalism was responsible for their freedom.

caliz56
caliz56

kudos for miami dade police dept.the families of these dead hoodlums got it coming to them if they think a jury is going to award them anything.these were bad asses that were justifiably shot.actually,if not for the waste of bullets,i would remove them from their tombs and shoot them again.

Cynthia
Cynthia

Kudos to the Police!KEEP IT UP!That's probably the BEST way to weed out all these low life worthless thugs!

Jeffrey
Jeffrey

This story was written to disturb many people because four men are dead as result of this sting. The results however also mean that many people will not be the victims of these men in the future. The only down side of this sting was that one man survived. These creatures were of no value to society and nothing has been lost. Michael Miller or one of the other members of the New Times staff may have been there next victim, and that would be horribly wrong.

VTECHMIAMI
VTECHMIAMI

Miami has the sleeziest low-lives on the face of the warth, and The Miami New Times is the sleeziest rag of a newspaper on the face of the earth. Thug paper for Thug city. What a bunch of LOW LIVES! THANK YOU JIMMY CARTER!!

cutlerbay1
cutlerbay1

Gonzalez Sr. was told not to participate, but he chose otherwise. This tells me he took his chances playing against the police as well as being involved in criminal activity. You shouldn't trust any informant working for the police. The informant could have setup the police as well and the police officers could have lost their lives too.

Rismiley
Rismiley

Oh, my son, that was in this car armed and with three other armed men, was a good person! Yeah, right. all the good people go around armed planning on robbing people!

occupytruth
occupytruth

Great Job Miami Dade!! Today in Miami, a officer shot a man that was EATING the face of another man. Yes, EATING, chewed half of the mans face off!! Please folks stop watching CSI MIami, LA .....and all that other garbage on TV. Police work is not simple nor easy, there are real animals out there that WILL rob, torture and kill with no remourse. Being a cop is not easy, they have to deal with corrupt politians, killers, violent robbers and lunatics everyday. Its funny to read TMT anti-police stories every week and the pro-criminals "who were changing their lives"Miami is one of the deadliest cities but the politicians dont want you to hear this. Violent crime does not sell newspaper ads, tourist vacations or Casinos at One Herald Plaza.

Jose
Jose

Keep it up !!!!

mabella
mabella

MD police 4Bad guys 0Taxpayers win!

R525e60
R525e60

Good riddance, I think all police depts should follow this work flow.

Funk764
Funk764

And? Good job director. I'm glad you're running the PD. Keep it up.

John
John

More dead armed robbers is exactly what we need!

Duh!
Duh!

HERE IS A NOVEL IDEA…DON’T GO AROUND ROBBING PEOPLE AND IF YOU GET BUSTED (WHILE ARMED), DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT MAKING ANY SUDDEN MOVES…HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES?

TOLDYA
TOLDYA

I support this totally.

Dzzzz
Dzzzz

Sorry Mr. Miller, but Miami is tired of the criminal element, and nobody cares about them anymore. Specially when they come from other countries and return the favor by becoming criminals.....and you forgot to mentioned ALL of them were armed. You made it sound these poor individuals approached the house with flowers in their hands.

Dzzzz
Dzzzz

So now the home-invators are the poor victims....what about the people they tortured????, why don't you do a story about them!!!!!!

disg reader
disg reader

Hey, new times, do something different for once and write an article on police officers that face the daily dangers of instead of always attacking them. No one will ever understand what it's like to be a cop until you walk in their shoes... Officer Nelia Real nearly got killed for stopping to help the very person who shot at her. She will have life long reminders of that encounter, yet she holds no ill toward the man who shot her. If that's not NEWSWORTHY, I'm sure you can come up with another article attacking the police.

http://www.miamiherald.com/201...

dking9
dking9

they should do this more often, maybe the others will stop. less people we have to support in jail!!!!

Mike Moskos
Mike Moskos

Do you think our elected district attorney will EVER put any police officer on trial? Or just quietly dismiss the case years later?

James Michael McDaniel
James Michael McDaniel

It's a new day now with the police now militarized. Thanks to fear ramped up by conservative propaganda!

Ed13
Ed13

If you live by the sword, you die by the sword. If your a productive member of society, this will not happen to you.

Lou
Lou

This Redland house has been used by MDPD in the past for drug stings. That night, I was outside no more than 600ft from the location, and their was 2 sets of automatic fire. The 2 volley of shots were 5 minutes apart. The whole area was flooded with unmarked police cars. At least 5 were in front of my house. Seems like they were not going to let these guys out alive. It looked like a execution.

azlefty
azlefty

1. Don't Commit Crimes2. If you are dumb enough to do so do not use a weapon

In any state in the US if you point a gun at a person for no legal reason and they kill you guess what, they have committed no crime, it is the same for Cops.

While there are real issues of Abuse of power and other crimes in police Departments trying to make these 4 fuckups the poster boys is not working and will do nothing to correct the problem.

Winry3173
Winry3173

"A cruel joke", really? All I see is four scumbags less that we don't need to worry about. Probably if they hadn't chosen to get by life the easy way they would still be living. When are people going to learn that you need to work for money, becoming a criminal is not an excuse.

Lenahc57_7
Lenahc57_7

N yes da redlands is a trap n its alot of weed bak dea

JM
JM

The June 30, 2011 sting was one of the bloodiest police operations in Miami history. It was also one of the most controversial.

"Police have yet to issue a report but admit the robbers never fired their weapons."

I'm not taking their side, but please read what is in front of you, at least the bs they giving us anyways...

Americal69
Americal69

so they were robbin pot heads. why do you love drugs

 
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