Home / Lee sheriff announces arrest of a deputy after plan to plant drugs, frame person

Lee sheriff announces arrest of a deputy after plan to plant drugs, frame person

Reporter: Andrea Guerrero Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno held a news conference Friday to announce a major criminal investigation involving one of their deputies.

Sheriff Marceno said Deputy Niko Irizarry has been arrested for felony official misconduct.

In January, the sheriff’s office received information stating that one of Irizarry’s arrests wasn’t lawful. They received a complaint, and internal affairs looked into it.

The plan was foiled due to text messages during an investigation that spanned from Texas to Florida. The messages provided by Irizarry showed that he and Charles Custodio conspired together and the video shows them sitting in a parking lot texting one another about setting the victim up.

They discovered that Irizarry was working with two people to plant narcotics on someone during a traffic stop. Custodio and Scott Snider were helping Irizarry plant drugs. LCSO even says the trio planted drugs in the vehicle of a person on December 16 of last year.

Irizarry, Custodio and Snider worked together to frame that person during a traffic stop. “Once the narcotics were planted, Custodio communicated with Irizarry to provide the victim’s location,” said Sheriff Marceno.

That victim was arrested the next day.

Irizarry did not have a clear view of the victim that he arrested during that traffic stop. Irizarry apparently lied on the arrest report. LCSO found a video showing that Irizarry was parked in an unmarked car that was not in a clear view of the victim.

The arrest warrant shows that the deputy used his authority to appease a friend that had a vendetta against the victim. A report from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said that Custodio offered Irizarry sexual favors and a trip to Paris in exchange for his help.

David Thomas is a former police officer and a current professor at FGCU. “He was willing to give away his badge, his gun, and his retirement?” Thomas said.

Custodio then contacted Snider, who posed as a real estate client, to plant a slew of narcotics in the victim’s car.

Safety and Security Specialist Rich Kolko speaks to all of the intricate details behind this plan. “There may have been text messages, phone calls, videos, there was a lot of planning that went on to this event, this wasn’t just a spur of the moment idea that the deputy had,” said Kolko.

A search warrant for both phones proved that Irizarry and Custodio set a place and a time when the victim was going to be arrested.

“It really destroys the public trust,” said Thomas. “That means that everything will have to be they’ll have to go back into every case apart and look at it, look at the merits of it.”

Sheriff Carmine Marceno described this as “disgusting conduct.”

Custodio and Snider were arrested for trafficking in fentanyl, possession of a controlled substance, and conspiracy.

Watch the entire press conference in the player below or click here.