Illegal immigrant with criminal record makes $250K working with Chandler PD

Chandler police team up with and pay illegal immigrant

Posted: 9:57 PM
Last Updated: 4 hours and 34 minutes ago
By: Christopher Sign

CHANDLER, AZ - In the world of drugs, guns and cash, it’s not unusual for secret deals to be made between officers and offenders, but one Valley police department's arrangement has got some people upset.

Informants are nothing new in the world of law enforcement, but how much is too much when it comes to compensating the criminals turned informants?

After looking through documents for months, the ABC15 Investigators found at least one agency is using an informant who is an illegal immigrant with a criminal background to set up drug deals.

ABC15 learned the unidentified man is working under a Chandler Police Department contract and made around $250,000 last year in his work with the narcotics unit within the department.

Chandler Police Department officials do not deny the use of the informant in question.

“They [informants] are invaluable,” said Chandler police Sgt. Joe Favazzo. “With the amount of money they are paid, there’s a tremendous amount of risk people have to take to provide that service.”

ABC15 also obtained documents showing members of the Chandler Police Department filled out paperwork to get the informant a visa, driver’s license and Social Security number.

“It’s an avenue and allows us to provide them with paperwork, get it approved by those federal organizations that approve these documents,” said Favazzo. “We can’t work with those people as an illegal immigrant, so this has to be done and it’s quite common. Once we’ve determined that they have good credible valuable information that we can use, we want to facilitate this paperwork being properly completed.”

According to documents, the informant has a felony record, crossed the border illegally 10 times, has six aliases and is one of about 12 informants working for the Chandler Police Department narcotics unit.

“We realize they have a criminal history, that’s what makes a criminal informant useful,” said Favazzo.

The informant has a deal with the department which provides him with 10 to 15 percent of the cash and value of the drugs from the deals he arranges.

“It (percentage payment) seems to be, if you will, the industry standard,” Favazzo said during a sit down interview at the department’s headquarters.

We checked out sources at other departments in the Valley and while informants are common, the way they are paid varies from flat rates for information to a percentage for each drug deal set up.

Sources with other departments tell ABC15 it’s not uncommon for law enforcement to use “professional informants” who offer their services for a flat rate or a percentage depending on the number of cases they bring to investigators.

Chandler police defend the amount of money paid to the informant.

When asked if it’s worth paying an undocumented immigrant $250,000, Favazzo responded, “Yes, it’s absolutely worth it, we’re breaking up criminal syndicates, millions and millions of dollars worth of criminal syndicates, taking weapons off the streets, putting the bad guys in jail and getting drugs off the streets.”

According to records, many of the deals orchestrated by the informant are called “reversals”.

Reversals are deals where undercover officers front the drugs in an effort to arrest the buyers and seize their cash. The deals can be lucrative for the informant and departments.

State records show the Chandler Police Department has reported millions of dollars in forfeitures from the drug deals over the past few years.

Some have questioned “reversals” wondering if they actually take drugs off the streets.

“When you take their money away, you’ve taken away their ability to do business, it works,” said Favazzo.

Favazzo tells us the money recovered in the operations is placed into a general fund handled by state officials and not directly into the Chandler Police Department.

“We can’t use the money to hire officers, but we can use that type of money to enhance our equipment, to provide bullet proof vests for our officers, things like that,” said Favazzo.

As for the Visa, supplied to the informant for his work with the department, it doesn’t last forever. When the informant’s work is done or if he is no longer useful, the visa expires.

While working with the department, Favazzo says an officer is assigned to monitor the informant.

“Those officers watch them very closely, there’s a contract signed,” said Favazzo.

According to the contract, the informant acknowledges they are not permitted to break any laws, are not allowed to carry any weapons and cannot represent themselves as a police officer and that they must follow all directions and instructions from the control officer assigned to them.

If the informant violates any portion of the contract, Favazzo says they are immediately dismissed.

“If they cross the line the Visa gets wiped out,” said Favazzo.

If you think $250,000 for one year is a lot for one informant, ABC15 has learned he’s not even the highest paid. Another Chandler narcotics informant made around $500,000 over a 14-month period last year.

Information surrounding that person has not been made public.

Still to come, find out why at least one Phoenix criminal attorney says the use of certain informants could have an effect on cases, including one of his own that was recently dismissed.

Stay with ABC15 and for further updates in the coming days on this investigation.

Illegal immigrant with criminal record makes $250K working with Chandler PD