3rd Cop Jailed For Alleged Role In CoCo County Drug Ring

DANVILLE  (CBS/BCN) —  A deputy sheriff with the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office was arrested Friday on suspicion of possessing and selling controlled substances, a spokesman said.

Stephen Tanabe, 47, of Alamo, was arrested at 9:30 p.m. after investigators discovered he might have been keeping and selling drugs, according to a statement from sheriff’s spokesman Jimmy Lee.

Tanabe, who had been with the sheriff’s office for four years, faces charges of conspiracy to possess and sell controlled substances, making an assault weapon, and possession and transfer of an assault rifle, according to Lee.

His arrest was part of an ongoing investigation into the state Department of Justice Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team, or CNET. Sources close to the investigation said officers in as many as four Bay Area departments are now being scrutinized for their ties to state drug agent Christopher Butler, 49, who allegedly stole drugs from evidence lockers.

Butler was arrested last month with his longtime friend, Norman Wielsch. Both men were later charged with 28 felony counts connected to the alleged theft, possession and sale of methamphetamines, marijuana, steroids and prescription pills.

Butler was released from jail Friday after making bail. Wielsch also is out on bail.

All three men – Wielsch, Butler and Tanabe – are former Antioch police officers who worked in the department in the late ’90s.

“The arrest of Tanabe is a sad day for the office of the sheriff but should not reflect on the integrity or professionalism of the nearly 1,000 other members of the office,” Sheriff David Livingston said in a statement.

Tanabe was placed on administrative leave, and he is being held at the Martinez Detention Facility with a bail of $260,000, according to the sheriff’s office.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

  • Watcher

    These law enforcement personnel who Bay Area citizens have trusted, who have been caught actually helping organized crime, should be transferred straight to Leavenworth Prison; including guilty SFPD Narcs. recently forgetting the U.S. Constitution: ALL, TO LEAVENWORTH PRISON! They shouldn’t be given the privliage of being locked up in California!

  • Zack Debarco

    There is nothing worse than a dirty cop!! I would hope that a thorough investigation is done and if he is prooven guilty, he be sent away for a long time.
    I am very pro-law enforcement and appreciate what they do for us. I do know that, like everywhere else, there will always be some bad apples.

  • DG

    This is why we should pay our public workers a fair wage and honor their pensions. This corruption would be overwhelming if officers didn’t make a fair wage. Support public workers and their unions!

    • Ex- law

      This is no reason for selling Drugs. The money made from drugs is in the Hundreds of thousands & not some piddly amount that instills an idea to keep a Union. It was done with the abandonment of just wanting to own larger homes * toys. To their Lifestyles. They should take them all out and give them nothing of a large payment for what they do. They are not doing anything but giving out lots of people that work hard to forget their own ways Tickets to pay the corrupt government.

    • Rick John

      time to end the unions if this is what we can expect, threats! This type of response just makes it more convinicing to end the gravy train to these thugs

  • jon jonzz

    right first stop levinworth, then hanging his dirty ass.

  • Cacaman

    Okay what about their families, what will they go through, the accused should get a raise for playing the same system they are working for….

  • AF

    Yeah all bay area cops are corrupt I was treated like a crack hoe for losing weight the right way and did not look like my ID another time they did not take a report after I was jumped for being gay probly cause they are prejudice against gays and hispanics

    • Victor

      AF, what makes you say that? I think that not every cop in the Bay Area are behaving badly unless some of them use excessive force.

      • Victor

        But I do agree with you on the “prejudice against gays and Hispanics” part since prejudice may also happen to blacks and other races, including Asian-Americans like me.

  • theblackwhole

    Sooo..the “cops” won’t releaxe a mug shot when the perp is a white boy and a fellow “cop”.

    Why doesn’t this surprise us? Because “cops” are the dirtiest gang out there.

    If the per had been Black or Brown and not a “cop,” his mugshot would’ve bee ALL OVER the news by now.


    –B’cuz The Black Whole SAYS SO…That’s WHY.

  • Scott

    If they’re found guilty they should be given an extra sentence for breaking their vow to protect & serve the public.
    As for unions, pension for public service employee’s should be compared to private sector employee’s. I’m a Carpenter, and after 32 years of steady work my pension is nothing compared to firefighters and cops.

  • Percival Briones

    how about acop thy give a ticket but u not vaulent the roles like bit the red lite and speding the cop is very very corupt not all but i love a cop becous i have a cosin is a good cop

  • Mj

    Great.. they let the crook of on bail. Now he’ll flee to Mexico and join the drug cartel.

  • MJ

    @AF… The cops should know better. If you maintain a good driving record you should be able to renew your license without taking a new photo.

  • Dee Tran

    What stupid were those cop . They get paid around $100 K per year plug full benefit , then they themselves reject that . Oh my god , I am a one of tax payers who have been paying for them . And there are still a lot of cops like them but still being at large .

    • Jon Jon

      they make mayber 70,000 a year, maybe

  • ROSE

    So sad! We teach our children at a very young age that police officers are GOOD people and are our friends and helpers! Very disappointing and SCARY!

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  • BadCopGoodCop

    The majority of law enforcement personnel are hardworking, trustworthy, nice people. They deserve their pay. They put their lives on the line on a daily basis. Are there bad apples? Absolutely! As there is teachers, clergy and others put in a trusted position. Support the officers that are doing the right thing and hold those accountableb that are doing wrong.

  • Jon Jon

    Bad Cop, no donut

  • shooter

    Very good write-up, I will bookmark this.

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