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Former DEA agent José Irizarry sentenced after transferring millions of injections into his pockets

By on December 10, 2021 0

Former US Drug Enforcement Administration agent José Irizarry has been convicted after transferring millions of dollars in injections into his pocket.

Irizarry, 47, was convicted of conspiring to launder money with a Colombian cartel. Last year, he pleaded guilty to 19 federal counts, including bank fraud.

While working with the DEA, Irizarry filed false reports and ordered DEA personnel to transfer money allocated for the covert attacks to international accounts belonging to him and his co-conspirators, prosecutors said.

Irizarry said international bank accounts were a profit-generating “slush” for official and personal travel by federal law enforcement, US prosecutors and confidential sources.

He had admitted that his knowledge of money laundering had led him to a luxurious life funded by the $ 9 million that he and his co-conspirators had gained from secret money laundering investigations.

Among the items he bought with the laundered money were a $ 30,000 Tiffany diamond ring for his wife, a $ 767,000 residence in the Caribbean city of Cartagena, and luxury sports cars.

DEA agents and prosecutors who worked with them heard about Irizarry’s spending and heard stories of yacht parties before Irizarry resigned in 2018.

Irizarry has been entrusted with the government’s use of shell companies, fictitious bank accounts and couriers to combat international drug trafficking while working for the DEA.

The DEA hired him and allowed him to handle sensitive financial transactions. However, Irizarry failed a polygraph exam, declared bankruptcy, and maintained a relationship with a suspected money launderer who would later become the godfather of his twin daughters.

María Dominguez, Irizarry’s lawyer, said her client took full responsibility for his actions, but says he never took more than $ 600,000.

Former DEA agent José Irizarry arrives at the United States Courthouse on Thursday, November 18, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. Irizarry, a once notable American narcotics agent who used his badge to create a lavish lifestyle of expensive cars, yacht parties and Tiffany Jewelry, was sentenced to over 12 years in federal prison on Thursday, December 9, 2021 , for conspiracy to launder money with a Colombian cartel.
Chris O’Meara / AP Photo, File

Even though Irizarry admitted his crimes, he blamed former colleagues in the United States Drug Enforcement Administration for fostering a culture of corruption that desensitized him to the implications of breaking the law.

“When my client joined the DEA, he learned to be corrupt, he learned to break the law,” his lawyer, María Dominguez, told the court. “In this alternate universe, it became easier and less suspect to accept money and gifts” from criminal informants who worked with America’s premier narcotics agency.

United States District Court Judge Charlene Honeywell has expressed disgust with the DEA for its failures and said other agents corrupted by the “lure of easy money” must also be investigated.

“It has to stop,” the judge said. “You got caught, but it’s obvious to this tribunal that there are others.”

The DEA declined to comment on Irizarry’s claims.

“Former Special Agent Irizarry abused the trust of the American people when he repeatedly violated his oath as a federal law enforcement officer,” said Anne Milgram, the agency’s new administrator. , in a press release. “Bringing him to justice reflects the principles of those who faithfully serve and uphold the values ​​of the DEA.”

New questions have been raised as to whether his colleagues in the Miami field office, where Irizarry’s criminal activity began, also abused the badge in their treatment of confidential informants who displace tens of millions of people every year. dollars of dirty money under the supervision of the DEA.

Dominguez in court records revealed that since Irizarry’s arrest last year, he has met with prosecutors for “endless hours” to provide information on the criminal activities of “his fellow law enforcement officers. who initiated him to a criminal life ”.

Honeywell recently sealed “sensitive” documents filed in the criminal case, saying their disclosure could potentially hamper an ongoing criminal investigation, scare targets and hinder the cooperation of other witnesses. So far, apart from Irizarry’s wife, Nathalia Gomez-Irizarry, and a Colombian customs officer, no one else has been charged with conspiracy.

The Inspector General of the United States Department of Justice slammed the DEA in a summer report for failing to properly oversee what are supposed to be closely watched bites of the kind Irizarry worked on. Following the reprimand, which follows a string of scandals involving agents overseas, Milgram has ordered an external review of the agency’s foreign operations, which is ongoing.

The DEA has been rocked by repeated instances of misconduct in recent years, including officers accused of wire fraud, bribery and selling guns to drug traffickers. Thursday’s hearing came just four months after another longtime DEA agent Chad Scott was sentenced to more than 13 years behind bars for stealing money from suspects, forging government documents and committing perjury.

During Thursday’s sentencing, Irizarry broke down in tears as he addressed the court, saying the biggest punishment was not being able to explain to his two young daughters why he was leaving for so long. He said he became a federal law enforcement officer two decades ago with a sense of great pride.

“Unfortunately, there came a time when I made a decision that went against who I was, that hurt my wife and embarrassed my country,” he said. “I should have known better and I didn’t. I failed.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

José Irizarry, Conviction, Money Laundering, DEA
Among the items that former DEA agent José Irizarry purchased with the transferred money was a $ 30,000 Tiffany diamond ring for his wife, a $ 767,000 residence in the Caribbean town of Cartagena. and luxury sports cars. He was able to live a life of luxury funded by the $ 9 million that he and his co-conspirators hijacked from secret money laundering investigations.
Chris O’Meara / AP Photo