Former DEA agent arrested for laundering money for drug cartel

“It’s a black eye for the DEA to have one of its own engaged in such a high level of corruption.”


Accused of secretly laundering money for the Colombian cartel that he was assigned to investigate, a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent and his wife were recently arrested by the FBI. The federal agent allegedly used the dirty money to purchase a $30,000 Tiffany diamond ring, a BMW, three Land Rovers, and houses in Cartagena, south Florida, and Puerto Rico.

In 2011, DEA agent Jose Irizarry reportedly began filing false reports in order to deceive DEA personnel into transferring funds to accounts controlled by Irizarry, his wife, and their co-conspirators. To carry out the plot, Irizarry and his criminal associates are alleged to have opened a bank account with a stolen identity and then utilized the account to covertly send and receive drug proceeds from active DEA investigations.

Irizarry allegedly worked with unnamed co-conspirators described in court papers as a Colombian public official and the head of an outfit that plied its trade in drug running and money laundering who became the godfather to Irizarry’s children when he was stationed in Colombia in 2015. After being reassigned to Washington, Irizarry resigned in January 2018.

On Friday, FBI agents arrested Irizarry and his wife, Nathalia Gomez-Irizarry, at their residence near San Juan, Puerto Rico. In addition to mishandling millions of dollars in DEA funds, Irizarry has also been accused of sharing sensitive law enforcement information with his co-conspirators.

“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, the DEA’s former Chief of International Operations. “He jeopardized investigations. He jeopardized other agents and he jeopardized informants.”

“His fingerprints are all over dozens of arrests and indictments,” David S. Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor in Miami, told The Associated Press. “It could have a ripple effect and cause courts to re-examine any case he was involved in.”

Irizarry was charged with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, honest services wire fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to commit identity theft, and aggravated identity theft. Gomez has been charged with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.


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