Federal agents arrested a Philadelphia police officer Tuesday, accusing him of conspiring with officers in Baltimore to sell cocaine and heroin seized from that city’s streets.
Prosecutors say that Eric Troy Snell, 33, earned thousands of dollars serving as a conduit between corrupt members of a Baltimore police task force who stole the drugs and his brother, who sold them in Philadelphia.
Investigators also have accused Snell of threatening the children of a Baltimore officer who pleaded guilty in the case.
His arrest is the latest in a widening police corruption scandal that has rocked Maryland’s largest city, resulting in the arrests of eight members of an elite gun task force there who prosecutors have accused of robbing and extorting drug dealers for years.
A Philadelphia police spokesman said that Snell — a three-year veteran of the force who had been assigned to the department’s 35th District in Northwest Philadelphia — would be suspended for 30 days with intent to dismiss.
Snell began his police career in Baltimore before arriving in Philadelphia in 2014. It was at the police academy in Maryland that he met Jemell Rayam, a fellow officer and his primary contact with the Baltimore Gun Trace Task Force.
The squad had been deployed to crack down on the proliferation of illegal guns in that city. But prosecutors now say that Rayam and several cohorts, including two commanding sergeants, used their positions to rob drug dealers and pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars uncovered while searching homes and cars of suspected criminals.
According to Snell’s indictment, the Philadelphia officer set up an October 2016 meeting between his brother, who is not named in court filings, and Rayam to arrange for the sale of cocaine seized by the task force.
After Snell’s brother sold the drugs, the officer allegedly deposited $1,000 in proceeds in Rayam’s bank account, keeping $1,000 for himself. Several similar transactions followed over the next two months, the indictment alleges.
Rayam, arrested along with six other officers in March, pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy last month.
But in recorded jailhouse phone conversations referenced in court filings, Snell allegedly pressured Rayam to keep his name out of the ongoing investigation.
“Snell told Rayam to ‘stand tall’ and said he would ‘keep an eye’ on Rayam’s kids, which Rayam perceived as a threat to harm Rayam’s children if Rayam told authorities about Snell’s illegal drug trafficking,” the indictment says.
Snell made his initial appearance Tuesday in federal court in Baltimore on drug conspiracy charges. It was not immediately clear whether he had retained a lawyer.