Philadelphia Police Inspector Daniel Castro, 47, was arrested on Friday and charged with bribery and extortion in connection with a failed real estate deal in which he was an investor.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office claim that Castro asked an FBI informant to help him find an “enforcer” to make threats of violence against unnamed parties in order to recover $90,000 that he had put in the deal. The FBI informant went along with the request, and set up a meeting with an undercover FBI agent, posing as an enforcer.
Castro is head of the Traffic Division and was previously commander of the 24th District. He is one of the highest ranking officers in the department and had aspirations to one day be Police Commissioner. A 25-year veteran, he is the 15th member of the city’s police department arrested for corruption since March 2009.
The arrest is part of an overall effort by Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey to clean up the force, long criticized for a culture of corruption. Recent arrests of officers include three nabbed in drug investigations, four charged with sex crimes and two that were brought in on murder charges for after-hours shootings.
John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, representing the 6,500 officers of the city’s police union said the arrest of so many officers in such a short period time is “a streak of bad luck like I’ve never seen in my career. Either you want to be a gangster or you want to be a cop,” he said. “I just hope we’re coming to the end.”
Ramsey has increased the number of officers working Internal Affairs to 138, and is working closely with the FBI to weed out corruption. He’s also admitted that there will probably more arrests, since there are still a number of investigations under way targeting other officers. “There is no higher priority for every single member of this department . . . than ensuring that we police ourselves,” Ramsey said in a memo. “We cannot afford to have our legitimacy . . . slip away at the hands of a few, who leave a black eye on all of us who remain.”