Former D.E.A. Agent Charged With Laundering Colombian Drug Money


Jose Ismael Irizarry was sent to Cartagena to examine revenue laundering by Colombia’s notoriously violent drug cartels. But alternatively of employing his steady of confidential informants to deliver down the gangs, the authorities claimed, Mr. Irizarry labored with a Colombian drug trafficker to launder revenue seized from undercover drug functions and utilized the dollars to invest in a Tiffany diamond ring, a $135,000 Land Rover and a dwelling in Cartagena.

On Friday, Mr. Irizarry, a previous special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration who had worked in Miami, Cartagena and Washington right until he resigned in 2018, was arrested along with his wife, Nathalia Gomez-Irizarry, close to their home in San Juan, P.R.

Mr. Irizarry, 46, was billed with conspiracy to launder income, sincere products and services wire fraud, financial institution fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to commit identification theft and aggravated identity theft. Ms. Gomez-Irizarry, 36, was charged with conspiracy to launder money.

Each had been produced on bond and are owing again in court on Wednesday. José Luis Novas-Debién, a lawyer for the pair, did not right away react to messages on Saturday.

A 19-rely indictment, filed this 7 days in federal court docket, mentioned Mr. Irizarry “engaged in a corrupt scheme” even though he was intended to be investigating income laundering by drug-trafficking organizations. The indictment accused Mr. Irizarry of “enriching himself by secretly applying his place and his unique entry to information and facts to divert drug proceeds from D.E.A. management to the control of himself and his co-conspirators.”

One particular of those people co-conspirators was the chief of a Colombian drug-trafficking corporation who became godfather to Mr. Irizarry’s little ones, according to federal prosecutors in Tampa, Fla.

A next co-conspirator was determined in the indictment as a public formal in Colombia, who prosecutors mentioned had utilized drug revenue to obtain a $329,000 Lamborghini Huracán Spyder from a Miami car dealership.

Mr. Irizarry’s indictment could make it extra complicated for American legislation enforcement officers to make the believe in of informants in the shadowy and hazardous entire world of drug trafficking, in accordance to the authorities.

In Colombia, where cartels rule by drive, cooperating with legislation enforcement could be a death sentence. But as traffickers and cartels have progressively turned to encrypted varieties of communication, informants keep on being critical to federal investigators, according to Kevin M. Lally, a former main of the narcotics and revenue-laundering division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

In an interview on Saturday, Mr. Lally explained the accusations towards Mr. Irizarry as the “sort of corruption that tears at the fabric of the agency by itself, mainly because the only way you can make these scenarios is to have informants.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration referred a ask for for comment to the Justice Division, which declined to comment.

The indictment described a sprawling plan in which Mr. Irizarry filed fake studies on investigations, prompting a ripple impact that caused his colleagues at the Drug Enforcement Administration to falsely document the aspects of wire transfers, unwittingly concealing the source of drug revenue that he controlled.

Ms. Gomez-Irizarry was accused of operating a shell firm out of the couple’s dwelling in Miramar, Fla., that had no personnel and marketed no products but was employed to consider in and distribute the revenue her spouse collected, the indictment mentioned.

After big sums of money have been seized from undercover functions, Mr. Irizarry would direct agency employees to transfer the money to bank accounts managed by other people involved in his operation, in accordance to the indictment.

Mr. Irizarry was accused of laundering the revenue at the same time he was in federal personal bankruptcy proceedings that resulted in his debts becoming wiped away in 2016, prosecutors claimed.

This thirty day period, Fernando Gomez, one more previous Drug Enforcement Administration agent, was sentenced to 4 decades in jail for his role in a conspiracy to aid drug traffickers in Puerto Rico evade law enforcement. And in 2015, the head of the agency, Michele M. Leonhart, left the situation amid outrage about her handling of reports that brokers in Colombia experienced participated in sex functions with prostitutes paid out for by drug cartels.

Leonardo E. Concepcion, a attorney for one particular of Mr. Irizarry’s onetime informants, Gustavo Yabrudi, stated his shopper had hoped his former handler would be billed. Mr. Yabrudi was lately presented a 46-month sentence for his function in a income-laundering scheme.

Now, “the people today who have been the string-pullers in the conspiracy will confront the consequences,” Mr. Concepcion said. “Other individuals are heading to have to answer for their steps.”


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