Pulling Up the Weeds

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Three Memphis police officers were indicted today on conspiracy to violate civil rights and to distribute controlled substances.

Former officers Arthur Sease and Alexander Johnson and officer Antoine Owens participated in a scheme involving robbing drug dealers of marijuana, cocaine, and cash, and then selling the drugs for their own profit.

“They would have someone cooperating that would arrange a drug purchase. Then the officers would pull over the drug dealers, and steal their drugs,” said U.S. Attorney David Kustoff at a press conference Wednesday morning. “They weren’t arresting the dealers. They were instructing them not to report.

”Sease, who worked out of Appling Farms station, was indicted on 50 counts, some of which were civil rights violations for illegal search and seizure. Others were firearms charges, possession of controlled substances charges, and extortion.

Johnson and Owens, who both worked at the Mt. Moriah station, were each indicted on two counts — civil rights violations and narcotics charges.

The three officers are among 22 law enforcement officials in Shelby County charged with crimes under Operation Tarnished Blue.

“We’ve got a beautiful lawn,” said Memphis police director Larry Godwin of his department. “We’ve just got pull up the weeds.” — Bianca Phillips

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