After a lengthy undercover operation, the FBI has arrested eight current and former NYPD officers and charged them with crimes ranging from gun trafficking to conspiracy to smuggle cigarettes. Five of the officers are still on the force and three are retired; according to prosecutors they illegally transported handguns, M-16 assault rifles, shotguns and other stolen property, including slot machines, across state lines. 12 people were arrested in their homes in a pre-dawn raid this morning, including a former Sanitation Police officer, two of his friends, and a New Jersey Corrections Officer.

The investigation into the conspiracy began in 2009, when an FBI informant was introduced to one cop, William Masso of the 68th Precinct, "as a person who could 'fix' the [informant's] traffic tickets," according to court papers obtained by the Post. But a law-enforcement official tells the tabloid that the probe was "totally unrelated" to the NYPD ticket-fixing scandal currently under investigation by the Bronx DA, who is expected to charge 16 officers soon.

In this case, the officers are accused of buying inoperable weapons, including an M-4 assault rifle, from an undercover FBI agent. They then allegedly filed off the serial numbers so they couldn't be traced, and transported them over state lines. Masso allegedly told his conspirators that they should carry their police badges, and if they ran into trouble with non-corrupt cops, to say they were cops working off-duty "delivering items purchased at auction."

"The criminal complaint lays out a scheme of brazen misconduct that include the illegal transportation of stolen cigarettes and stolen slot machines, the illegal transportation firearms, and the illegal transportation of defaced firearms," FBI's Special Agent in Charge, Diego Rodriguez, said in a statement this morning. "All of these crimes were seemingly committed for one simple reason: money. For their participation in the various schemes—cigarettes, slot machines, guns—the defendants were paid handsomely."

Mayor Bloomberg, who has made getting guns off the streets a priority, also released a statement saying "Our administration is taking every possible step to crack down on illegal guns and continue making the safest big city in the country even safer... The NYPD is the finest police department in the world, and these arrests do nothing to diminish the selfless commitment of the 35,000 men and women who put on a uniform every day, and who put their lives on the line to keep us safe."