Former Jersey Cop Hijacks a Load of Smokes

An experienced police officer should know when he is being set up. This one didn’t. He walked right into a trap.

In July 2013, the Jersey City policeman and a guy working for the FBI as a confidential informant approach a trailer parked at a warehouse in Secaucus, New Jersey, looking for a smoke. After cutting the lock off the trailer with bolt cutters, they find what they are after. Smokes. Lots of them. They make off with 600,000 cigarettes and six televisions.

Their problem was this: Law enforcement officers had parked the trailer at the warehouse and set up surveillance.

Selling the televisions

The Jersey City cop, 40-year-old Mario Rodriguez, doesn’t know yet that the heist is not going to end well for him. He and his sidekick, the informant, drive the stolen merchandise in their own vehicle to Staten Island, New York, to sell the cigarettes to the informant’s friend. On the way there, Rodriguez makes several phone calls trying to sell the TV sets.

The pair meet the CI’s associate – actually an undercover officer – in a parking lot to get a $5,000 payment for the cigarettes. Rodriguez keeps $3,000 of the cash and three of the TVs.

A few days later, Rodriguez, the informant and an undercover law enforcement officer meet in New Jersey to discuss robbing a drug courier, who was actually another undercover officer. The group has another meeting two weeks later in Staten Island to discuss the plan. The undercover officer tells Rodriguez the courier would be delivering cocaine that day in exchange for a $20,000 payment.

Rodriguez suggests a Jersey City mall parking lot for the delivery and calls his friend Anthony Roman, 48, of Jersey City, who was not a law enforcement officer, to help him with the robbery.

Cash in a plastic bag

Later that day, Rodriguez and Roman drive to the location where the informant and the drug courier are parked. Law enforcement agents had already established surveillance and put $20,000 in a plastic bag. Rodriguez and Roman approach the car and identify themselves as law enforcement officers who are investigating the informant. They pretend to arrest the CI, threaten to arrest the drug courier and take the cash.

Later that day, Rodriguez, the informant and the undercover agent meet in a hotel room at a Pennsylvania casino to split the cash.

End of the line for Rodriguez. He has been sentenced to three years in prison. Charges are pending against Roman.

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