Sgt. Xavier Elizondo and Officer David Salgado were supposed to help the city of Chicago fight gang violence and drug trafficking. Prosecutors say they made it worse.
A federal grand jury just indicted Salgado, 37, and Elizondo, 45, for lying to judges to obtain fake search warrants using phony confidential informants, and then stole cash, drugs, and cartons of cigarettes from the properties they searched.
The indictments of Salgado and Elizondo are the latest in an ongoing federal probe into the Chicago Police Department’s gang team, which oversaw the city’s West Side. Both Elizondo and Salgado have been charged with embezzlement and conspiracy to commit theft, and Salgado was slapped with an additional charge of lying to the FBI. Several other gang team officers were dismissed from the office earlier this year amid the federal probe into the corruption allegations.
To obtain search warrants, officers have to submit a sworn complaint containing details of an operation alleged by a confidential informant. That informant would then have to go before the judge for questioning. According to the indictment, Elizondo and Salgado hired two Chicago residents to pose as confidential informants and lie to the court to get around these requirements.
The fake informants would later get a cut of whatever cash or drugs the officers pocketed during their search.
From one search of a rental car, prosecutors say, Elizondo and Salgado took home $4,200 in cash. According to the Chicago Tribune, federal investigators turned the tables on the allegedly corrupt gang squad by executing two search warrants at the residences of at least two officers the following day. Investigators were tipped off to the scheme when an informant complained that the gang squad had robbed him, the Tribune reported.
Elizondo and Salgado are facing up to 10 years in prison.
“Law enforcement corruption undermines the integrity of the criminal justice system," said Special Agent-in-Charge Jeffrey S. Sallet in a statement accompanying the indictment.
"Over the last two years, CPD [Chicago Police Department] has worked tirelessly to build trust and partnerships with the communities we serve,” Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. “That is why the alleged conduct is very troubling – it dishonors what I and every member of CPD have dedicated our lives to and risk our lives for each and every day.”
Cover image: Police look on as activists gather across from Trump Tower before pulling down their pants and mooning Donald Trump's building, February 12, 2017, in Chicago. Patrick Gorski/NurPhoto via Getty Images.