LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- They cased homes containing drugs, money and weapons like suspects in any other robbery ring, prosecutors say.
But instead of donning ski masks and stealing through windows in the dead of night, the robbers allegedly wore police uniforms and badges as they carried out raids that authorities say were intended to appear like official law enforcement searches.
Five of the suspects were sworn officers at the time.
Nineteen people have been charged in the ring, led by then-Los Angeles police Officer Ruben Palomares, prosecutors said Thursday in announcing the results of a four-year investigation.
Palomares and his associates are accused of targeting locations where people were suspected of selling drugs, then gaining access by saying they were conducting a legitimate police search before stealing valuables, prosecutors said.