Two former officers with the Houston Police Department (HPD) have been convicted of conspiracy to violate the Hobbs Act, also known as extortion under color of official right, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Emerson Canizales, 27, of Kingwood, and Michael Miceli, 27, of Humble, were arrested in January 2013 and pleaded guilty just a short time ago before U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller.
Canizales and Miceli were peace officers with HPD at the time of the offense. They have now admitted they accepted money for providing protection for a vehicle they believed contained cocaine.
A joint agency task force learned the officers were involved in criminal conduct which may involve narcotics and illegal bribes. As part of the investigation, a confidential source approached Canizales and Miceli and asked if they would assist with the protection of a vehicle that was coming through Houston. They agreed.
On Dec. 26, 2012, Miceli and Canizales arrive in a marked patrol car in their official uniforms and followed the source, who was driving a tow truck pulling the vehicle containing the cocaine. The officers provided protection and followed the “load vehicle” from a Target Parking lot to a Sam’s Club parking lot in Houston.
Canizales admitted as part of his plea that he was given $1000 while Miceli was waiting in the patrol car. Miceli acknowledged he received $500 from Canizales after the escort. Both men have also admitted they believed the vehicle contained narcotics though they did not know the type or quantity.
Judge Miller has set sentencing for Sept. 27, 2013, at which time both men face up to 20 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine. They were permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.
The operation was an effort conducted by Houston Police Department – Internal Affairs, Drug Enforcement Administration, and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HIDTA) Major Drug Squad. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney James McAlister.