16 Puerto Rico police officers indicted on corruption charges

Sixteen former and current police officers in Puerto Rico have been charged with running a criminal ring to generate money through bribes, robberies and drug sales, authorities said Thursday.

The officers are accused of planting evidence to make false arrests and then extorting victims, demanding money in exchange for their release, said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez.

They also are accused of entering homes used by suspected criminals to steal money, drugs and other items. The police officers also are accused of providing false testimonies, manipulating court records and not appearing in court to force the dismissal of cases in exchange for bribes, officials said.

Two officers are specifically accused of conducting a traffic stop and stealing some $22,000 in what authorities say was illegal drug money.

The indictment states that the alleged ring operated from 2009 until January 2014.

Puerto Rico's police department is undergoing a 10-year federally mandated reform after a 2011 report accused officers of illegal killings, corruption and civil rights violations.

The U.S. territory has the second-largest police force in the U.S. with roughly 17,000 officers.