December 1, 2022

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Money laundering for a cartel | DEA agent jailed for 12 years

(Tampa) A U.S. special narcotics agent was sentenced on Thursday to more than 12 years in federal prison for plotting to launder money with a Colombian cartel.


Joshua Goodman and Jim Mastian
Associated Press

But while Jose Irisari pleaded guilty, he accused his former colleagues at the US Anti-Doping Agency (DEA) of fostering a culture of corruption and encouraging him to incur the consequences of breaking the law.

“When my client joined the DEA, he was taught to be corrupt and to break the law,” her lawyer, Maria Dominguez, told the court. “In this alternative universe, it is easy and unquestionable to accept money and gifts from criminal informants who have worked with America’s leading drug agency.”

In handing down his sentence, Judge Charlene Honeywell expressed his disgust at the DEA’s failures and said other agents who were corrupted by the “lure of easy money” should be investigated.

“It must be stopped,” the judge said. “You’re stuck, but it’s clear to this tribunal that there are others.”

Mr. The DEA declined to comment on Irisari’s claims.

“Former Special Agent Irizarry abused the confidence of the American people when he repeatedly violated his promise as a federal law enforcement officer,” said Anne Milgram, the new executive of the United States. “Bringing him to justice reflects the policies of those who truly serve the values ​​of the DEA.”

Mr Irisari’s allegations underscore the subtleties of his surveillance throughout his career, when the government handed him the use of shell companies, fake bank accounts and couriers to fight international drug trafficking.

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Mr. The allegations also raise new questions as to whether his colleagues in the Miami office, where Irisari’s crime began, abused their status as DEA agents to provide tens of millions of dollars in dirty money every year. Under the supervision of the US Pharmaceutical Agency

In the documents filed in court, since the arrest of his client last year, Mr. Irizarry met with lawyers “endless hours” and provided information about the criminal activities of fellow officers. The police who incited him. Criminal life “.

Judge Charlene Honeywell recently sealed the “important” documents filed in connection with the criminal case, saying their disclosure would disrupt the ongoing criminal investigation, prevent the targets from escaping and the cooperation of other witnesses. So far, Mr. None other than Irisari’s wife, Natalia Gomez-Irisari, and a Colombian customs employee were charged in the case.

In a statement released this summer, the U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General, DEA, Mr. Irizarry has been criticized for failing to properly monitor covert activities, which are said to be meticulously monitored. Following allegations of a series of scandals involving foreign agents, agency executive Ann Milgram ordered an external review of the agency’s overseas operations, which is ongoing.

The DEA has been rocked by a series of misconduct cases in recent years, including by officers accused of wire fraud, bribery and selling guns to drug traffickers. Thursday’s trial comes four months after Chad Scott, another longtime DEA agent, was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison for stealing money from suspects, stealing government officials’ documents and giving false testimony.

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The U.S. Pharmaceutical Agency hired Mr Irisari and allowed him to handle important financial transactions even after he failed the polygraph exam, declared bankrupt and had a close relationship with his Colombian wife, a suspected money launderer who was to become the godfather of his twin women.

Last year, Mr. Irizarry pleaded guilty to 19 federal accounts, including bank fraud, and agreed to lead a life of luxury using his money laundering expertise, which he and his accomplices were kidnapped for allegedly financing $ 9 million. Secret money laundering investigation.

The robbery included a $ 30,000 Tiffany diamond ring for his wife, luxury sports cars and a $ 767,000 home in the Caribbean resort town of Cartagena – as well as apartments in southern Florida and Puerto Rico. Prior to his resignation in 2018, Mr Irisari’s fancy habits and accounts of rowdy boat parties were well known to DEA agents and lawyers he worked for.

To further improve the system, prosecutors said Mr Irizarry was filling in false statements and ordering DEA staff to send money to international accounts he controls with associates for covert operations. Prosecutors say the money should have been closely monitored by the DEA during the secret money laundering investigation.

For official and private trips of federal law enforcement officials, U.S. attorneys and confidential sources, Mr. Irizarry said.

Attorney MaríaDominguez, Mr. Irizarry took full responsibility for his actions, but his share in the plot did not exceed $ 600,000.

During Thursday’s sentencing, Jose Irisari burst into tears as he addressed the court, saying the biggest punishment was failing to explain to his two young daughters why he had been out for so long. He added that when he became the federal law enforcement officer only twenty years ago, he did so with great pride.

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“Unfortunately, I made a decision against one person that would have harmed my wife and brought shame to my country,” he said. “I should have known better, I do not know. I’m lost.”