Most of the metro Atlanta law enforcement officers accused of protecting drug dealers bonded out of jail on Wednesday.
U.S. Attorney Sally Yates says the alleged bad cops took payoffs from drug dealers. The arrested officers are from various departments across the metro area, including Atlanta, DeKalb County and MARTA police.
Federal prosecutors say they set up a sting operation with informants exchanging money with officers in public places. Sometimes those officers allegedly showed up in their squad cars, wearing their uniforms.
"When the cooperator put the word out on the street that he needed dirty cops to protect his drug deals, he got plenty of takers," said Yates.
Law enforcement officers from all over the metro area are accused of taking bribes from drug dealers in exchange for protection. The U.S. Attorney's Office learned about the alleged behavior while investigating a street gang in 2011.
It then used informants to set up a sting operation -- meeting with the accused bad cops in public places to set up protection and payoffs for cocaine drug deals.
"Oftentimes the defendants showed up to the drug deals wearing their police uniforms. Oftentimes they drove their patrol cars. They were carrying their service weapons and conducted surveillance for the drug dealers," Yates said.
Many of the accused officers have already made their first court appearances. Two are from DeKalb County and Forest Park, one from Atlanta, Stone Mountain and MARTA, two are former DeKalb County deputies and the last is a contract officer from Federal Protection Services.
DeKalb County Officers Dennis Duren and Dorian Williams are on paid leave. The interim police chief said that their alleged acts do not reflect the character of the hundreds of DeKalb County police officers.
The U.S. Attorney indicates that Stone Mountain Police Officer Denoris Carter allegedly split more than $23,000 with another suspect after both were accused of protecting five different drug transactions.
Stone Mountain Police Chief Chancey Troutman released a statement on Wednesday, saying he would "like to reassure the citizens of Stone Mountain that they still have a loyal and trustworthy police force in our City. If the allegations are true, Officer Denoris Carter had a serious lapse in judgment to get involved in criminal activity and betray the public trust. Officer Carter has been placed on unpaid administrative leave pending an internal investigation. Again, I want the citizens of Stone Mountain to know we are committed to keeping them safe and maintaining their trust."
MARTA Police Officer Marquez Holmes is charged with allegedly accepting cash bribes after protecting what he thought were drug dealers in four separate transactions. The government calls the alleged behavior disturbing.
All seven of the lawmen, including APD veteran Officer Kelvin Allen, have bonded out of federal custody. But they could face a minimum of 10 years in prison, and millions of dollars in fines.
There are three additional defendants in this case who are still in federal custody. They will have their first hearing on Friday.