(CBS/WCBS/AP) NEW YORK - Five New York City police officers are reportedly among 12 people arrested in a gun smuggling sting operation, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday.
Five of the cops are currently working in various precincts in Brooklyn. According to CBS station WCBS, three other suspects are retired police officers.
The arrests come amid speculation that the Bronx prosecutor is close to bringing charges in a separate ticket fixing case that could result in about a dozen officers' arrests.
In the current case, which also involves a corrections officer from New Jersey and three civilians, the suspects are accused of involvement in a ring that was trying to traffic automatic rifles, handguns, stolen cigarettes and slot machines. The FBI and the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau ran the joint undercover operation.
Undercover officers were involved in both obtaining and receiving the weapons. Sources told WCBS that the guns were inoperable and never a danger to the public.
A widening probe that became public early this year centers on whether NYPD officers were wrongly fixing tickets as favors to friends, relatives and even city government officials. In May, the police commissioner said he was forming a new unit to watch over how citations are processed through the criminal justice system.
The practice - undoing paperwork on traffic citations before they reach court as favors to officers' friends or relatives - has been going on for years. It came under fire after the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau stumbled across evidence of widespread ticket fixing in Bronx precincts while investigating an officer suspected of wrongdoing in a drug case in 2009, law enforcement officials have said. On a wiretap, authorities overheard talk of ticket fixing and decided to begin secretly recording other officers.
About a year ago, the department installed a new computer system that tracks tickets and makes it much more difficult to tamper with the paper trail.
In September, an off-duty veteran police officer caught up in the criminal investigation into ticket fixing went onto a subway track and tried to touch the electrified third rail in an apparent suicide attempt, authorities said. Patrick Lynch, president of the police union, suggested the length and uncertainty of the probe were driving officers to "a breaking point."