23:21 GMT07 April 2020
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    The Drug Enforcement Administration agent and his long-time informant allegedly engaged in an illegal scheme to secretly divert drug proceeds from undercover stings into a bank account they controlled. It emerged that the agent had managed to get hired by the DEA despite struggling with a polygraph exam and declaring bankruptcy.

    The FBI on Friday arrested decorated narcotics agent Jose Irizarry on charges of conspiring with a Colombian drug cartel.

    Irizarry, 46, and his Colombian wife Gomes-Irizarry, 36, were busted on Friday at their home in Puerto Rico, the US Justice Department has said. They have each been released on $10,000 bail.

    The two are accused in a 19-count indictment of secretly wiring millions in cash collected from drug dealers by the DEA to accounts Irizarry ran together with family members and criminal associates.

    Irizarry worked in the DEA’s offices in Miami and Cartagena, Colombia from 2009 to 2017.

    He earned a transfer to a prestigious posting in Colombia thanks to a series of high-profile drug busts; one former law enforcement official described him as “the superstar everyone wanted to be”.

    The stand-out narco resigned in early 2018 after being recalled to Washington because he had invited suspicions in Colombia.

    While in Colombia, he was entrusted with an undercover DEA operation to transfer money and goods from suspected drug dealers to phony companies, shell bank accounts, and couriers.

    It is alleged that instead of funnelling that money into the DEA’s accounts, he sought to repatriate some of it to drug dealers in Colombia and spent some funds to purchase luxury cars, jewelery, and homes in Cartagena, Florida, and Puerto Rico.

    Irizarry is said to have laundered at least $3.8 million in illegal drug proceeds, although the Associated Press reported in January 2019 that he'd handled more than $7 million.

    His former DEA informant and key witness in the case, Gustavo Yabrudi, pleaded guilty to money laundering last year and received a 46-month jail term.

    According to the AP, Irizarry managed to get hired by the DEA and handle its financial transactions despite showing “signs of deception” during a polygraph test and filing for bankruptcy in 2010 with debts of almost $500,000.

    just last week, another former agent was sentenced to four years in prison for his role in a decades-long conspiracy to smuggle thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Puerto Rico to New York.

    Tags:
    arrest, money laundering, Colombia, United States, DEA
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