Three years ago, Ralph Mata was a highly respected lieutenant in the Miami-Dade Police Department. His resumé included helping to dismantle two gangs in Miami Gardens, using drug-sniffing dogs to find contraband at Miami International Airport, and investigating police corruption as part of the internal affairs department. But while he was fighting crime and remaining an upstanding cop in the Magic City, Mata had a side gig consulting and doing dirty work for drug dealers in the Dominican Republic. He had dubbed himself "the Milk Man." He now faces life in prison.
Mata's dual life fell apart almost a year ago, in April 2014, when the FBI indicted him on three charges related to his gang connections, shocking the MDPD and his co-workers.
The FBI had begun investigating a drug-trafficking group that had been smuggling cocaine and other drugs from the Dominican Republic and Ecuador into New Jersey through shipping containers that carried produce like bananas. During the investigation, FBI agents discovered that Mata, using the code name "the Milk Man," had been consulting and abetting the gang.
The FBI claims Mata once bought six weapons for the gang and personally delivered them to the Dominican Republic. He carried cash for the criminals, advised them on the best way to smuggle drugs and avoid detection, and tipped them off about an impending raid. Mata also discussed a plan to kill members of a rival gang, but the murders were never carried out.
Mata was paid handsomely for his services.
Though his alleged crimes were severe, the feds made the rare concession of allowing him to post a $500,000 bond after his arrest. That freedom will be short-lived.
Today, federal prosecutors in New Jersey say Mata has pleaded guilty to his crimes. They include aiding and abetting a narcotics conspiracy, conspiring to distribute cocaine, and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from unlawful activity.
He'll be forced to forfeit $75,405 he made form the deals and faces life in prison when he's sentenced July 14.
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