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Drug Trafficker Who Paid Bribes to DEA Agent Sentenced to More Than 11 Years in Prison

By Steve Neavling

A convicted California drug trafficker was sentenced to more than 11 years in federal prison for paying bribes to a corrupt DEA agent, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

Francisco Gonzalez Benitez, 37, pleaded guilty in April 2021 to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances, distribution of methamphetamine, and conspiracy to engage in money laundering. 

Between 2016 and 2019, Benitez operated multi-state conspiracies to distribute large quantities of cocaine, fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine from California to Florida and Arkansas and launder the proceeds. 

Benitez also worked as an informant for DEA Agent Nathan Koen and paid him thousand of dollars in bribes to provide protection for his drug operation. 

In May, Koen was sentenced to 135 months in prison. He provided sensitive law enforcement information that helped Benitez run his drug operation and avoid detection by authorities. 

The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the IRS, FBI and DEA. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Coolican prosecuted the case. 


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