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Miami Lt. Known As 'Milk Man' Was Drug-Ring Sidekick: Feds

A Miami internal affairs police lieutenant who called himself "The Milk Man" betrayed his badge by working for an international drug-smuggling operation, even hatching a plot to have assassins dressed as cops murder the crew's rivals, authorities said Tuesday.

Ralph Mata, 45, made his bones with the Miami-Dade Police Department busting narcotics gangs before he became the hired muscle for an organization that trafficked cocaine from the Dominican Republic to New Jersey, federal prosecutors said.

The 22-year law-enforcement veteran was charged with aiding and abetting a drug conspiracy and will appear in court Wednesday.

A criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday says an FBI investigation of the drug gang uncovered Mata's role — which allegedly included buying guns and hollow-point bullets for the dealers and smuggling them to the Dominican Republic in a carry-on suitcase with help from an airport contact.

When the drug dealers were threatened by rivals, Mata came up with a cold-blooded plan to neutralize them.

He "stated that his contacts (i.e., the assassins) would wear uniforms and badges to make it appear as though the targets of the murder plot were lawfully being pulled over by law enforcement, after which the targets would be shot and killed," the complaint says.

Mata traveled to New York to give the would-be assassins a box of cigars and $5,000 as a down payment for the rub out, but the smugglers eventually decided not to proceed with the plan, prosecutors said.

In addition, Mata allegedly helped his drug contacts transport money and funneled confidential police information to them.

It was unclear if Mata has a lawyer. The Miami-Dade Police and the Dade County Police Benevolent Associations did not immediately return calls, and a family member declined to comment.

— Tracy Connor