NewsMuch ado about a little dust

Much ado about a little dust

For years, the Munich police have been investigating a suspected cocaine scandal. Except for one spectacular anecdote, the results so far have been rather meager.

Were some of the Munich police in league with a major dealer? Did officers get cocaine from him at a discount, did they pass it on, did they cover for him? Were there entire groups of police forces who had switched to the other side of the crime? The case is described in the media as “coke swamp” or “cops and coke”.

The Munich public prosecutor’s office and the Bavarian State Criminal Police Office (LKA) have been investigating this matter for more than three and a half years – with immense effort. The investigation is now coming to an end, according to the public prosecutor’s office. The result seems rather poor at the moment: five of the 37 suspected officers, mostly from the Old Town Police Inspectorate, are likely to be charged. All other cases have been proven innocent or will not be pursued due to insignificance. The same applies to investigations into 21 other people.

The beginning of the case seems quite strange: On April 8, 2018, the dealer Leo T. (name changed) slammed his car into a garage door while intoxicated with cocaine. The police had him on their radar for a long time and took him into custody. In July, he decided to come forward as a key witness in order to receive a lighter sentence. He called names after names of police officers and other people he supplied with drugs. He gave out cell phone numbers and reported numerous details.

His statements seemed to be correct, the investigation picked up speed. The Munich police, from which the suspects come, was not and is not responsible, but the LKA with its “Internal Investigations” department. The name of the established special commission: “Nightlife” – night life.

The public prosecutor’s office and the LKA certainly also wanted to demonstrate that they don’t turn a blind eye when it comes to their own people, but that they work just as meticulously in such a case. And possibly even a little more. At least that’s how it is for Reinhold Pechtold, the chairman of the Munich Police Union (GDP). In an interview with the FR, he speaks of a possibly “inflated case”. Pechtold makes it clear: “Anyone who has anything to do with drugs or drug trafficking has no business with the police and must be convicted.” However, according to the current state of knowledge, this was not the case for most of the suspects.

The investigators presented their work in an impressive way. The public prosecutor’s office announced last October that 94 seized cell phones had been evaluated. In addition, 117 “other storage media” were viewed and “approx. 7 million chat messages, approximately 6.7 million image files and over 130,000 video files”.

On September 23, 2020, there was a major raid, for which special task forces (SEK) from Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg and Hesse were also requested. Most of the officers did not know what it was about until shortly before the start of the operation. From six o’clock that day, in addition to the SEK, 19 public prosecutors, 70 LKA investigators and 100 police forces from Munich and Augsburg searched 37 objects, including apartments and offices. These were in Munich, Augsburg, Dachau, Wolfratshausen, Ebersberg and at the police academy in Fürstenfeldbruck.

Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU) pledged his full support and spoke of a “criminal mess”. The then Munich police chief Hubertus Andrä was appalled by the alleged extent of the case. On request, the public prosecutor’s office confirmed that only ten grams of marijuana and no cocaine were found by the police forces during the operation.

The “Spiegel” also found the Munich police officer Clemens Ertl, who was investigated until his innocence was finally established. The investigators therefore misinterpreted a mobile phone typo as an indication of cocaine consumption. Not only was everything searched for him, but also for his mother and father. Finally, it was proven that he had committed an offence: he once insulted a colleague in a chat group. Ertl was suspended from duty for a year, now he is supposed to switch from his old station to the traffic police.

“Trust in the police was shaken considerably,” complains GdP man Bechtolt. Some police forces would certainly have something to do with the cocaine thing: “There can always be isolated cases.” The actions of a police officer who fled after being busted and was caught last October are obviously well documented. He is now charged with 149 counts of violating the Narcotics Act.

According to the public prosecutor’s office, it is also clear that two police officers bought cheap cocaine from the dealer, at a kind of friendly price. A police officer is said to have been in the car with the dealer and taken cocaine from him before a traffic stop so that it would not be found at the dealer. And it is still being determined in two procedures in which the police officers involved would have pursued innocent people.

At the time, a tabloid newspaper wrote about the dealer’s statements as a key witness: “Everything is true”. The GdP chairman Bechtolt strongly doubts this and recognizes “contradictory statements”. It is conceivable that Leo T. wanted to say more than he actually knew. His trial ended today, he received a suspended sentence and is free.

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