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Inglewood Police Officer Arrested For Narcotics Trafficking Charges

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - An Inglewood Police officer was arrested for narcotics trafficking charges on Thursday, October 21. The charges include two cocaine transactions, with one involving a kilogram (or 2.2 pounds) of the drug.

The US Department of Justice announced the arrest of John Abel Baca on Friday morning, more than a week after a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment charging him with distribution of cocaine. Baca, 45-years old, is a 21-year veteran of the Inglewood Police Department, in that time he has also acted as their union representative.

According to a document released by the Department of Justice, Baca took part in at least two transactions (both to the same witness who was cooperating with other law enforcement) - one on April 29 and one on May 4 - where he was reported to be delivering cocaine. In one of the instances Baca accepted $22,000 in return for the narcotics.

The case against Baca was unsealed on Friday, following the arrest of an associate of his. FBI agents served a warrant at the home of one Gerardo Ekonomo, of South Los Angeles. Ekonomo, 42, was arrested on Thursday when agents found narcotics buried in his yard, as well as a firearm and ammunition to go with it inside of his residence. He was officially charged on Friday with possession of heroine and intent to distribute.

He was also arrested in June 2021, by City of North Las Vegas Police Department officers, while in possession of three kilograms of heroine. The document claims that a month after this arrest, an NLVPD officer was contacted by Baca, asking about the status of Ekonomo's case, and offering that Ekonomo could 'work off' the case by cooperating.

Despite his attempt to intervene in the case, the NLVPD officer did not drop the case against Ekonomo, and it is still pending.

A statement from the affidavit claims: "Baca is willing to abuse his position as a law enforcement officer in furtherance of his drug trafficking activities and to assist and protect his co-conspirators."

More information from the affidavit filed by the Department of Justice and authored by FBI agents, reveals that Ekonomo was enrolled as an informant five years ago, at Baca's request. Ekonomo never partook in any documented operations in that time.

Ekonomo is scheduled to appear in court on November 1 for his initial appearance in court, he faces at minimum a 10-year prison sentence with possibility for life in prison as his maximum sentence.

Baca, who's initial appearance was on October 22, was ordered to be detained without bond as he is considered a flight risk. His next appearance in court is scheduled for December 14. He faces a minimum sentence of up to five years, with a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison.

According to the affidavit, the Inglewood Police Department was fully cooperative during the investigation.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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