Former ‘Model’ DEA Agent Indicted in Conspiracy

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Jose Irizarry, a once-standout federal narcotics agent known for spending lavishly on luxury cars and Tiffany jewelry, has been charged with conspiring to launder money with the same Colombian drug cartel he was supposed to be fighting, the Associated Press reports. Irizarry, 46, and his wife were arrested Friday at their home in Puerto Rico. A 19-count federal indictment accused of “secretly using his position and his special access to information” to divert millions in drug proceeds from control of the Drug Enforcement Administration. “It’s a black eye for the DEA to have one of its own engaged in such a high level of corruption,” said Mike Vigil, former DEA Chief of International Operations. “He jeopardized investigations. He jeopardized other agents and … informants.”

Federal prosecutors in Tampa allege the conspiracy also benefited two unindicted co-conspirators, a Colombian public official and the head of a drug trafficking and money laundering organization who became the godfather to the Irizarry couple’s children in 2015, when the DEA agent was posted to the Colombian city of Cartagena. AP reported last year on Irizarry’s alleged wrongdoing. Before being exposed, Irizarry had been a model agent, winning awards and praise from his supervisors. After joining DEA in 2009, he was entrusted with an undercover money laundering operation using front companies, shell bank accounts and couriers. The case has raised concerns that the conspiracy may have compromised undercover operations. “His fingerprints are all over dozens of arrests and indictments,” said David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor in Miami. “It could have a ripple effect and cause courts to re-examine any case he was involved in.”

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