After pleading guilty to all charges in a 19-count indictment that included conspiracy to commit money laundering, honest services wire fraud, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft, a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent was sentenced Thursday to more than 12 years in federal prison.
In 2011, DEA agent Jose Irizarry 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 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 worked with 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.
In February 2020, 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 admitted to sharing sensitive law enforcement information with his co-conspirators.
On September 14, 2020, Irizarry and his wife pleaded guilty to all charges in a 19-count indictment, including conspiracy to commit money laundering, honest services wire fraud, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft. As part of their plea agreement, the former DEA agent and his wife admitted to participating in a seven-year scheme to divert over $9 million in drug proceeds from undercover money laundering investigations into bank accounts that they and co-conspirators controlled.
On Thursday, Irizarry was sentenced to 145 months in federal prison. He was also ordered to pay $11,233 in restitution and forfeit his interests in a diamond ring and a luxury sports car.
“The Department of Justice has zero tolerance for abuse of public office and is committed to ferreting out and prosecuting corruption wherever found, especially among the ranks of law enforcement,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division stated in a recent press release.
“Former Special Agent Irizarry abused the trust of the American people when he repeatedly violated his oath as a federal law enforcement officer,” said Administrator Anne Milgram of the DEA. “Bringing him to justice reflects the principles of those who faithfully serve and uphold the values of DEA. The men and women of DEA remain committed to protecting our communities and holding all accountable who engage in drug-related crimes. I commend our federal law enforcement partners who investigated this case with utmost professionalism and the prosecutors who worked tirelessly to bring Irizarry to justice.”
“Irizarry betrayed his oath to serve and instead used his position to further the criminal activities of a violent drug cartel while enriching himself,” noted Special Agent in Charge Brian Payne of IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). “While his actions represent an egregious breach of the public trust, they are in no way a reflection of the overwhelming majority of special agents who serve with honor and integrity. IRS-CI will take every step necessary to ferret out those who cave into temptation and grossly misuse their power.”