Police have long struggled to win the war on drugs, but one NYPD officer took a unique approach to the drug war: he helped the other side. Now though, the officer has been busted, and faces a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
According to the New York Post, 34-year-old Merlin Alston was found guilty Monday on charges of conspiracy to distribute narcotics—including cocaine and molly—and weapons possession. Alston, who worked in The Bronx, had evidently acted as a local drug dealer's "right-hand man" for years, helping the dealer by tipping him off about police activity and even protecting him on drug runs.
The dealer, Gabriel Reyes, was a high school friend of Alston's. With Alston's help, Reyes sold as much as 40 kilos of cocaine by the time the two were busted in 2014. Reyes is also charged with drug dealing and weapons possession.
At Alston's trial, Reyes testified, "At times he would tell me places not to be around because there was about to be a bust." Not only that, Alston would occasionally join Reyes on drug runs, protecting Reyes with a shotgun and sometimes even his NYPD service weapon.
The New York Post previously reported that Reyes had been pulled over 30 or 40 times between 2009 and 2013. While many of those times he had drugs and weapons in his car, he was often let off because Alston "had given him Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association cards to present to police." Once, when Reyes was pulled over on his way to deliver drugs, he called Alston, who showed up within minutes. Alston convinced the other cop to let Reyes go. "After [the cop] left, I made the sale," he told the jury.
According to the New York Daily News, Alston is already currently suspended, though he'll likely soon be terminated by the NYPD commissioner.
When he's sentenced on Feb. 2, 2017, Alston faces at least 15 years in prison with up to life in prison.