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Miami police officer in NJ on US charges

4-23-14

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A Miami-Dade police officer, who the FBI says was known as “the Milk Man,” has appeared in federal court in New Jersey to face charges he aided a New Jersey-based drug trafficking organization.

Lt. Ralph Mata (MAH-tah) of Broward County, Fla., made a first appearance Wednesday on charges of drug trafficking and illegal money transactions. He was not required to enter a plea.

Prosecutors say the 45-year-old helped New Jersey cocaine dealers move hundreds of thousands of dollars around, in part by helping them bypass security at airports in New York and Miami.

Federal prosecutors say Mata orchestrated a murder-for-hire plot and provided law enforcement information to traffickers.

Attorney Jay Surgent says Mata denies the charges. Mata remains free on $500,000 bail.

Surgent says Mata has been suspended from the police force without pay.