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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.)


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