Trooper Pleads Guilty To Drug Deal 

Trooper Pleads Guilty To Drug Deal 
Posted by FoM on November 23, 1999 at 20:10:52 PT
by Jim Smith, Daily News Staff Writer
Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Pennsylvania State Trooper Antonio Romero Jr. was a turncoat in the war on drugs.A "narc" working out of the Belmont Barracks in Philadelphia, Romero last year helped a convicted drug dealer with ties to Colombian traffickers escape from state police custody in hopes of getting a $3 million payoff that never arrived.
Romero, 32, of Leithgow Street near George, also had stolen nealy 50 pounds of marijuana - evidence that he had been entrusted to transport for the state police in 1997 and 1998.The pot was sold on the streets of Philadelphia by Romero's cousin, Jose L. Davila, for about $750 a pound, and profits, estimated to be $30,000 to $35,000, were shared equally by the two men.Romero pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to attempted extortion, conspiracy to sell marijuana, using a telephone to facilitate a drug deal and related charges.Romero's sentencing guidelines called for a prison term in the range of seven to nine years, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ewald Zittlau, the case prosecutor. He will be sentenced March 10 by U.S. District Judge Robert F. Kelly.Romero came under suspicion last year after convicted Colombian drug trafficker Mario Rojas Jr. escaped from the custody of Romero and other troopers who were guarding Rojas at a local hotel.Rojas had agreed to inform on other drug dealers at the time. The drug trafficker and Romero shared teen-age memories. They had attended Cardinal Dougherty High School together.While they reminisced, the drug dealer offered the trooper $3 million to let him go.The trooper agreed and gave the drug dealer a key to a set of handcuffs that the troopers were using to secure the hotel room's door from the inside to prevent Rojas from fleeing when the guard detail wasn't in the room.Free of his handlers, Rojas fled to South America, reneging on his $3 million payoff promise. Earlier this year, Davila, the trooper's cousin, told a trusted associate that Romero was upset that he hadn't been paid for helping Rojas escape. The associate was an FBI informant.To nail the cousin, the FBI dreamed up a sting operation that led to Davila's arrest. He informed on Romero. The Philadelphia Daily NewsNovember 23, 1999 1998 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc. Related Web Site:PBS's Frontline Program: Snitch
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