Four veteran police officers conspired with drug dealers to steal money, drugs and guns from competing dealers, authorities said in announcing nine arrests.

Other officers also were part of the conspiracy, authorities said Thursday.

"If I were the other officers, I would be picking up the phone and calling us because we intend to get to the bottom of it," U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald (search) said, suggesting that any officers with guilty knowledge could help themselves by becoming witnesses.

The four officers have been suspended without pay and the department would immediately start proceedings to fire them, Police Superintendent Philip J. Cline (search) said.

Five other people, allegedly drug dealers, also were arrested. All nine were charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine (search).

The arrests resulted from an investigation by Chicago police investigators and the FBI that involved "extensive use of physical and electronic surveillance" of the officers, authorities said.

The officers, working with their accomplices, allegedly staged traffic stops and broke into apartments to steal from their targets. At one of the traffic stops last July, the court complaint said, an undercover police officer was pulled over.

During court appearances Thursday, eight of the nine men were ordered held in custody until bond hearings Monday. An initial court appearance for the ninth man was not scheduled immediately.

The attorneys for the eight men who appeared in court declined to comment on the charges, which carry sentences from 10 years to life in prison.