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ATLANTA -- Ten law enforcement officers are charged with assisting drug dealers around metro Atlanta.

The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia announced the charges after a year-long undercover investigation of gang related activity.

The overall undercover operation uncovered officers from the DeKalb County Police Department, Stone Mountain Police Department, the Atlanta Police Department, MARTA Police Department, Forest Park Police Department, DeKalb County Sheriff's Office and the Federal Protective Service. In addition, one man, Alexander Hill, falsely represented himself to be a Clayton County Police Officer.

MORE | Read the fullcriminal complaint

US Attorney Sally Yates said, "This is a troubling day for law enforcement in our City. The law enforcement officers charged today sold their badges by taking payoffs from drug dealers that they should have been arresting. They not only betrayed the citizens they were sworn to protect, they also betrayed the thousands of honest, hard-working law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day to keep us safe. We will continue to work with our local law enforcement partners to pursue this corruption wherever it lies."

According to the indictments, the drug deals didn't take place in dark alleys, but often in very public parking lots in broad daylight.

Investigators say the officers often used their patrol cars, wore their uniforms are carried a weapon as they observed the drug deals take place. Some would sit in their car, others would walk the parking lot around the deal as a backpacks with cocaine and money were exchanged.

But Yates says some did more than watch, some gotinvolved in the process, counting the bags of cocaine, setting up signals to communicate, even discussing how and when deals shouldgo down.

"Remarkably one of the police officers suggested that future drug deals be made in parking lot of a local high school so they could exchange backpacks there and that backpacks wouldn't be something that would cause suspicion," said Yates.

Perhaps even more frightening, was how far the US Attorney said some officers were willing to go to protect the dealers.

Dekalb county police officer Dorian Williams allegedly said if things didn't go well, he couldn't just shoot the buyer, he had to kill him.

Monyette McLaurin's,a former Dekalb Sheriff's deputy, also allegedly offered to shoot a buyer if necessary and discussed killing someone he feared might snitch.

Mark F. Giuliano, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, said, "In recognizing the need for the criminal justice system and those who work within that system to firmly have the public's trust, the FBI considers such public corruption investigations as being crucial. The FBI will continue to work with its various local, state, and other federal law enforcement agencies in ensuring that the public's trust in its law enforcement officers is well deserved."

The law enforcement officers arrested today were: Atlanta Police Department (APD) Officer Kelvin Allen, 42, of Atlanta; DeKalb County Police Department (DCPD) Officers Dennis Duren, 32, of Atlanta and Dorian Williams, 25, of Stone Mountain, Georgia; Forest Park Police Department (FPPD) Sergeants Victor Middlebrook, 44, of Jonesboro, Georgia and Andrew Monroe, 57, of Riverdale, Georgia; MARTA Police Department (MARTA) Officer Marquez Holmes, 45, of Jonesboro, Georgia; Stone Mountain Police Department (SMPD) Officer Denoris Carter, 42, of Lithonia, Georgia, and contract Federal Protective Services Officer Sharon Peters, 43, of Lithonia, Georgia. Agents also arrested two former law enforcement officers: former DeKalb County Sheriff's Office (DCSO) jail officers Monyette McLaurin, 37, of Atlanta, and Chase Valentine, 44, of Covington, Georgia.

PHOTOS | Officers charged with assisting drug dealers

Others arrested today were: Shannon Bass, 38, of Atlanta; Elizabeth Coss, 35, of Atlanta; Gregory Lee Harvey, 26, of Stone Mountain, Georgia; Alexander B. Hill, 22, of Ellenwood, Georgia; and Jerry B. Mannery, Jr., 38, of Tucker, Georgia.

The undercover operation arose out of an ATF investigation of an Atlanta area street gang in August 2011. ATF agents learned from an individual associated with the gang that police officers were involved in protecting the gang's criminal operations, including drug trafficking crimes. According to this cooperating individual, the officers-while wearing uniforms, driving police vehicles, or otherwise displaying badges-provided security to the gang members during drug deals.

In affidavits filed in support of the charges, an FBI agent described how drug traffickers sometimes recruit law enforcement officers to maintain a physical presence at drug deals. The traffickers hope that the officers' presence at the drug deals will prevent rival drug groups from intervening and stealing their drugs or money, and also keeps legitimate law enforcement officers away from the scene. In return for the corrupt officers' services, the drug dealers often pay the officers thousands of dollars, according to the affidavits.

Acting at the direction of FBI and ATF, the cooperator communicated to gang members and their associates that the cooperator sought police protection for upcoming drug deals.

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