(KMOV) – An East St. Louis detective detained by the FBI earlier this week was one of seven defendants arraigned on federal drug charges Friday.
Orlando Ward and six others were charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine.
According to court documents, between April 5 and May 7, Ward and six other men conspired to possess and distribute more than 5 kg of cocaine.
Ward made an initial appearance in federal court on Friday and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The other defendants were Martez Moore, Antwone Johnson, Dewayne Hill, Brian Matthews, Jaren Jamison and Bryant Sawyer.
Every defendant besides Ward was also charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime after they were found with four guns.
Moore and Johnson also face two charges of distributing more than 28 grams of crack cocaine.
Additional details on the charges were not immediately available.
The courthouse on Friday was packed with Ward’s family and fellow officers.
During the hearing, United States Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton said Ward is well respected by his colleagues.
“This is shocking and disappointing,” Wigginton said.
According to a city spokesperson, Ward left the East St. Louis Police Department at 2 p.m. Tuesday after federal agents asked him to come to the federal building.
That was the last any officials heard until 6 p.m. Tuesday night when the FBI called and asked the city to collect Ward’s police car off their lot.
Ward, a 12-year-veteran with the East St. Louis Police Department, was made detective in 2007.
If convicted, he faces a minimum of 10 years in prison with a possible life sentence and up to a $10 million fine.