A former Inglewood Police Department officer has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of distributing cocaine, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.
Whittier resident John Abel Baca, 47, admitted to distributing cocaine on two separate occasions in 2021.
The 21-year veteran of the department gave cocaine to a cooperating witness, then gave a kilogram of cocaine to that same witness in exchange for $22,000, the DOJ said in a news release.
Before those incidents, the witness told the FBI that Baca had offered to sell him a kilogram of cocaine, two kilograms of “White China” heroin and “an unlimited supply of black tar heroin,” prosecutors said.
“[The witness] reported that Baca claimed to have stolen drugs and cash during routine traffic stops that Baca made as a drug task for officer with IPD,” the release said.
During the first of the two cocaine distributions, which was “covertly recorded,” Baca gave the witness a sample of cocaine for potential buyers. A few days later, Baca brought “a brick of cocaine” to the witness’ workplace, then collected $22,000 in cash from their house.
“In the plea agreement, Baca admitted that he abused his position of trust as a police officer, including by stealing drugs from IPD’s lock-up and reselling them,” prosecutors said.
Baca is expected to formally plead guilty on Oct. 17 to one count of distribution of cocaine. For now, he’s free on $1.1 million bond. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
The case against Gerardo Ekonomo, an informant who authorities allege worked alongside Baca, is still pending, a DOJ spokesperson said.