BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -
The Bakersfield Police Chief called the arrest of the detective, who was one of the subjects of the Disney film "McFarland USA," a sad day for the department at a news conference Friday.
“It was a surprise.” BPD Chief Greg Williamson said.
Damacio Diaz conspired with convicted methamphetamine dealer, Guillermo Magallanes by tipping him off to investigations while acting as a member of the BPD’s narcotics unit, the 16 count Federal indictment alleges.
"By virtue of his position as a sworn police officer of the BPD, (Diaz) would assist and further Guillermo Magallanes' illegal drug trafficking activity by providing Magallanes with intelligence on law enforcement practices and activities,” the indictment alleged.
As part of the conspiracy, federal investigators said, Diaz disclosed the name of police informants so Magallanes would not conduct drug business with them.
The case was investigated by the IRS, the DEA, the Department of Justice and the BPD. Diaz now faces “serious” prison time – possibly being imprisoned for decades, officials said.
Read the Full Indictment Below
At a news conference Friday at the BPD headquarters, representatives from multiple law enforcement agencies spoke on the investigation regarding the detective … once hailed as a “hero. “
“This is a sad and disappointing day in the history of the BPD,” Chief Williamson said.
The Chief said they were initially tipped off to the detective’s possible criminal ties through a separate investigation earlier this year. When they followed that trail, they found numerous instances and enough to indict him on 16 charges.
Detective Diaz was “working in concert” with drug traffickers, said Benjamin Wagner, U.S. Attorney for the Department of Justice.
Diaz is accused of taking in “tens of thousands” of dollars in bribes in exchange for the protection of a drug dealer. In addition, he filed false federal tax returns, officials said.
“These cases are unique and difficult to investigate," said Monica Miller, FBI Agent.”
The Diazes grew up poor. Paul and Juanita Diaz have seven children, each a year apart, all runners. In the 1980s, running was a privilege, a luxury granted only after the kids worked seven hours before and after school picking fruit to help support the family. The days started in the fields at 5 a.m.
Shortly before the release of the film, “McFarland USA,” which starred Kevin Costner and was held with high critical acclaim, Diaz sat down with KGET 17 for an interview to talk about his life.
"My dad worked, I mean, 10 to 15 hours every day, but he was there," he said. "He came home every night, and he didn't ever tell us to do something that he wouldn't do himself and never did something that we could not be proud of."
Coach White sometimes held two practices per night to help accommodate the kid's schedule in the fields. White won nine state championships before retiring in 2002.
Diaz went on to serve the BPD for 17 years and was placed on paid administrative leave February 26.
The BPD chief told a crowd of journalist and law enforcement officials Friday, that he thought the department had found the “movie-star status” detective’s niche in the narcotics unit.
Diaz will meet before a U.S. Magistrate Judge at 2:30 p.m. Friday and is still employed by the police agency.
“We do police are own,” Chief Williamson said. “Since the inception of this investigation our officers were on board.”