A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy and two other men are accused of carrying out an armed robbery at a downtown Los Angeles marijuana warehouse last week while falsely posing as legitimate law enforcement officers serving a search warrant, authorities said.
Deputy Mark Antrim, 41, of South El Monte, who is assigned to the sheriff’s Temple City Station, is scheduled to appear in federal court in Los Angeles Friday along with co-defendants Eric “Rooster” Rodriguez, 32, of Adelanto and Kevin McBride, 43, of Glendora, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a written statement. They each face a federal charge of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances that carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
“Deputy Antrim allegedly was able to use his law enforcement expertise and his access to Sheriff’s Department gear to stage a robbery that netted over a $1 million in marijuana and cash,” U.S. Attorney for the DOJ’s Central District of California Nick Hanna said. “We cannot tolerate this type of behavior from our sworn officers, and this case demonstrates our commitment to quickly address corrupt behavior by law enforcement.”
The robbery took place during the early morning hours of Oct. 29, DOJ officials said. The suspects are accused of stealing 600 pounds of marijuana and $100,000 in cash.
Antrim, McBride and another unidentified man arrived at the warehouse in an unmarked Ford Explorer, federal prosecutors said. The license plate shows the SUV was a sheriff’s department vehicle assigned to the sheriff’s Temple City Station.
They wore sheriff’s department patches as they claimed to be serving a search warrant, according to the DOJ statement. They wore police-style duty belts, including holstered handguns, and one of them carried a long gun, during the two-hour-long robbery.
“Antrim, McBride and the third man allegedly detained three warehouse employees, including two security guards, in the backseat of the LASD Ford Explorer,” according to the DOJ statement. “Soon after the guards and the employee were detained, a fourth man arrived at the warehouse in a large rental truck, and all four men began loading what appeared to be marijuana into the truck.”
The employees called the police during the robbery, drawing a response from Los Angeles Police Department officers, authorities said.
Antrim’s three accomplices fled through a back door, prosecutors said. Antrim falsely told the officers he was a narcotics deputy conducting a legitimate search.
In reality, Antrim was not on duty and was not a narcotics investigator, authorities said. There was no warrant issued for the marijuana warehouse.
The LAPD officers left after about 20 minutes, officials said. McBride and a second person then returned to the warehouse and continued carrying out the alleged robbery with Antrim, officials said. Rodriguez brought a pickup truck to help haul away marijuana and two safes.
The robbery was discovered days later, when an attorney for the warehouse contacted the Sheriff’s Department, officials said. Searches at the homes of of Antrim and McBride turned up more than $300,000 in cash and firearms. About two pounds of marijuana were also seized from McBride’s home.
The Sheriff’s Department is cooperating with the federal investigation, representatives said in a written statement.
“The LASD immediately brought the matter to the attention of federal investigators,” the statement said. An internal investigation was also launched immediately.
“When allegations of criminal activity involve law enforcement, we have systems in place to root out misconduct within the organization, as well as any department member who chooses to violate the law and public trust,” the Sheriff’s Department Statement said. “This case indicates that these systems are working as intended. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is appreciative of the individual who came forward with information about this alleged crime.”
The conduct amounts to “an egregious level of corruption that posed a safety risk to victims and fellow police officers,” Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office Paul Delacourt said.
“The FBI and our partners will continue to root out corruption, which undermines the law enforcement mission and stains the reputation of those committed to serve and protect.”
During their initial court appearances on Friday, Antrim’s detention hearing was scheduled for Nov. 13, while Rodriguez and McBride were scheduled to return to court on Nov. 15, DOJ spokesman Thom Mrozek said. All three were ordered to be held in custody in the meantime.