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When seven officers from the Gun Trace Task Force were arrested in 2017, the sprawling case was shocking. Plainclothes officers targeted people, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, lied about overtime and also conducted searches without warrants.
When seven officers from the Gun Trace Task Force were arrested in 2017, the sprawling case was shocking. Plainclothes officers targeted people, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, lied about overtime and also conducted searches without warrants. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun)

It’s been called the country’s most startling police corruption scandal in a generation: a squad of elite plainclothes officers in Baltimore who were robbing people, stealing drugs and ripping off taxpayers for overtime pay they hadn’t earned. The officers are now in prison on racketeering and other charges, but many questions remain about how they got away with their crimes for so long.

With this three-part investigation, Baltimore Sun crime reporter Justin Fenton dug into thousands of pages of court records, dozens of body camera videos and hundreds of emails and restricted files. By piecing together information that spans the career of the ringleader of the group, The Sun explores how Sgt. Wayne Jenkins managed to be seen as one of the department’s best officers, even as he and his squad were among the most corrupt.

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Ignoring warning signs of misconduct, Baltimore Police praised — and promoted — Gun Trace Task Force leader

 
(Mathieu Lalumière / For The Baltimore Sun)

Corrupt squad scoured Baltimore streets in pursuit of black men to search, arrest — and steal from

 
(Mathieu Lalumière / For The Baltimore Sun)

Wayne Jenkins was on a mission to find big dealers and steal their drugs and cash. Then the feds found him.

 
(Mathieu Lalumière / For The Baltimore Sun)
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