A former agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was arrested on charges that he laundered money for a Colombian drug cartel, according to The Hill.
Jose Irizarry and his wife were arrested Friday at their home near San Juan, Puerto Rico, the AP reported. The arrest was made as part of a 19-count federal indictment that accused Irizarry of “secretly using his position and his special access to information” to divert millions in drug money from control of the DEA.
“It’s a black eye for the DEA to have one of its own engaged in such a high level of corruption,” Mike Vigil, the DEA’s former Chief of International Operations, told the AP. “He jeopardized investigations. He jeopardized other agents and he jeopardized informants.”
Prosecutors said the conspiracy enriched both Irizarry and two unindicted and unidentified co-conspirators, one of whom worked as the head of a drug trafficking and money laundering organization.
Before his downfall, Irizarry had been thought of as a top DEA agent, garnering awards and praise before his resignation in 2018, when his ties to Colombia came under suspicion. His ties to the Colombian cartel raised concerns that Irizarry’s actions could have compromised undercover operations.
“His fingerprints are all over dozens of arrests and indictments,” David S. Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor in Miami, told the news outlet. “It could have a ripple effect and cause courts to re-examine any case he was involved in.”
Irizarry and his wife were both released on a $10,000 bond each.