Four veteran police officers were accused in federal court of taking thousands of dollars to protect what they thought were mob shipments of drugs, stolen art and jewelry.

Three of the officers made initial court appearances Friday and were ordered released on bond. The fourth was in the process of turning himself in and would likely appear next week, federal prosecutors said.

All serve in Hollywood, just south of Fort Lauderdale.

An FBI affidavit filed in federal court accused the four of taking thousands of dollars to protect a group they thought was a criminal organization based out of New York. The "mobsters" were undercover FBI agents during a two-year corruption sting.

Federal prosecutors said the operations included escorting a load of heroin from Miami Beach, providing security for an illegal poker game aboard a yacht and delivering $1 million worth of supposedly stolen diamonds to New Jersey. Other deals involved purportedly stolen bearer bonds, watches, paintings and a tractor-trailer load of cigarettes, prosecutors said.

The four officers were charged with conspiracy. They have not entered pleas, and the case will go before a grand jury. All have been placed on leave without pay.

Lawyers for the three who appeared in court — Detective Kevin Companion, 41; Sgt. Jeffry Courtney, 51; and Officer Stephen Harrison, 46 — declined comment on the charges but described their clients as devoted police officers and family men.

The fourth accused officer is Detective Thomas Simcox, 50.

Each would face up to life imprisonment if convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy and up to 20 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy.