The former North Carolina police officer faces a disability charge for using counterfeit heroin to arrest more than a dozen black men

A former detective accused of planting counterfeit heroin in North Carolina is now on the other side of the law.

Omar Abdullah was fired from the Raleigh Police Department in October 2021 after lawyers for a group of black men arrested on drug-related charges exposed the allegations.

A Wake County grand jury indicted Abdullah on July 26 with the felony of obstruction of justice.

“From the beginning, we took the damage caused very seriously,” said Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, who initiated the investigation.

Drug addict buys narcotics and pays (Getty Images)

Abdullah, an 11-year veteran in the force, was once praised for his police work. He was a member of the drug unit and was voted employee of the month in 2013. Abdullah arrested 15 black men for heroin trafficking from December 2019 to May 2020. The men were arrested and held on six-figure bails. But the charges were fraudulent. Freeman said her office became aware of the issue in February 2020.

Abdullah reportedly paid an informant to tell him about drug deals. The informant turned himself in to CID with fragmented videos of him often exchanging money that laboratory tests later showed was not an illegal drug. Freeman launched an investigation in 2020 to find out if Abdullah knew the heroin was fake. The grand jury found that Abdullah lied to a law officer about the drugs.

Many of the men were freed immediately, and all have since been evacuated. The city settled a $2 million federal lawsuit with the men in September 2021. The lawsuit alleged that Abdullah and others knew the corrupt whistleblower was using counterfeit heroin, but he continued to buy the cases. The men spent a total of 2.5 years in prison and their lives were torn apart.

“Many plaintiffs lost their jobs, missed birthdays and funerals, others had their homes and children screened by Child Protection Services, and others could not continue paying their bills and were forced to move during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Freeman and Raleigh told the police chief Estella Patterson in a joint letter in September. “All were traumatized by their wrongful arrest or detention and the fabricated allegations against them. The actions of the RPD VICE unit also resulted in the unlawful detention of scores of women and children and at least one illegal SWAT (SEU) raid on a family home.”

Robin Mills’ son, Marcus Vanirvin, was one of the men implicated in the fake drug scandal. Vanirvin originally had a $450,000 bond. He suffered long-term trauma, Mills said.

“It’s a problem. I’m disgusted,” she said. “When we have over 15 black men kidnapped and snatched off the street and locked up like slaves and no one seems to care.”

Criminal justice reform activist Kerwin Pittman asked why it took the city so long to indict the detective. He believes this is an example of systemic problems in local policing.

“Until the district attorney’s office begins normalizing the prosecution of police corruption in Wake County, we won’t see any change,” he said. The former North Carolina police officer faces a disability charge for using counterfeit heroin to arrest more than a dozen black men

James Brien

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