Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

September 2020
S M T W T F S
« Aug    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Tag: Columbia

Ex-DEA Agent, Wife Plead Guilty to Diverting $9M from Money Laundering Investigations

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A DEA special agent and his wife pleaded guilty Monday to a combined 19 charges as part of a seven-year scheme in which they diverted more than $9 million from undercover money laundering investigations and bought luxury cars, jewelry, and a home.

The money was deposited into bank accounts controlled by Jose Ismael Irizarry, 46, his wife, Nathalia Gomez-Irizarry, 36, and other co-conspirators. They used some of the laundered money to buy a Tiffany diamond ring, a $135,000 Land Rover and a home in Cartagena.

Irizarry, while investigating money laundering by Columbia’s drug cartels, worked with the drug traffickers to launder money seized from drop operations, prosecutors say.

“In a shocking breach of the public’s trust, former DEA Special Agent Jose Irizarry, together with his wife, Nathalia Gomez-Irizarry, abused his position by illegally diverting millions of dollars in drug proceeds from undercover operations to personally benefit themselves,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said in a news release. “Sworn law enforcement agents are entrusted with great responsibility, and the department will hold accountable those who exploit their positions to profit from public corruption.”

Irizarry pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, honest services wire fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to commit identity theft, and aggravated identity theft. Gomez-Irizarry pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.

“This former federal agent turned his back on the people he swore to protect and caved to greed and deceit,” Special Agent in Charge Michael F. McPherson of the FBI’s Tampa Field Office said.  “The FBI will not tolerate those who abuse the public trust and will persist in safeguarding the American people from public corruption.”

Prosecutors say the scheme began after Irizarry filed for bankruptcy in December 2010. At no point in the bankruptcy proceedings did he disclose any of the illicit income to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

“Rather than upholding his oath to stop drug trafficking and money laundering, Irizarry actively participated in these schemes and collected millions of dollars for himself and his associates,” Special Agent in Charge James F. Boyersmith of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Miami Field Office said in a news release. “Irizarry’s conduct enabled criminals, endangered the public, and jeopardized public trust in law enforcement.”

Irizarry and his wife face prison time when they are sentenced at a later date.

DEA Investigates Ex-Agent Accused of Providing Intel to Colombian Drug Traffickers

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The DEA is investigating a former agent accused of providing intelligence to Colombian drug traffickers.

The former agent, Jose Irizarry, resigned abruptly after investigators began suspecting he passed information to Colombia drug traffickers, BuzzFeed News reports. 

Sources told BuzzFeed the scope of the investigation is unprecedented.

“It’s a major case,” one of the sources said. 

The DEA confirmed the investigation.

“We are looking into his activities in Colombia,” the spokesperson said, adding that “the scope is unclear.”

She said the case is being handled by the DEA’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

One source said the Justice Department and FBI also are investigating Irizarry, who was based in the Cartagena, Colombia, field office.

Other Stories of Interest

DEA Warns Cocaine Is Making a Comeback As Coca Production Rises

Cocaine-jpgBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Cocaine is making a comeback.

That’s according to a recently released report by the DEA, which indicated that cocaine use and availability are rebounding, Newsweek reports

The DEA has found that coca production has significantly increased in Columbia, the primary supplier of cocaine in the U.S. since the mid-1990s.

“Average farmer profits increased more than 120 percent between 2012 and 2016,” the report underscores. “A Colombian coca farmer tending a mature quarter-hectare field realized some $1,200 in profits in 2016. This rise in potential profits provides the coca farmers with a strong economic incentive to grow more coca.”

DEA Agents Who Took Down Pablo Escobar Share Experience at Ohio State University

Javier Pena/dea photo

Javier Pena/dea photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The two DEA agents who took down one of the most violent and elusive cocaine kingpins in history, Pablo Escobar, shared their experience Monday night at the Ohio Union at Ohio State University.

The retired DEA agents Javier Pena and Steve Murphy were the impetus for the first two seasons of the Netflix original series, “Narco.”

The agents were sent to Colombia to take down Escobar and his Medellin cartel.

“Our philosophy was that when you go after an organization, you have to go after everybody in it,” Peña told the Lantern. “In other words, you have to dismantle the organization, not just one person.” 

Murphy said the phrase “war on drugs” was not completely accurate because governments provider serious resources in an actual war.

“We were fighting a ‘war on drugs’ against the biggest cocaine dealer, the world’s first narco-terrorist, the world’s most wanted criminal, and what did they send? They sent the two of us,” Murphy said. “It was more of a joke. Since we’ve retired, we’ve re-examined the situation. We still need the enforcement element, but we cannot arrest our way out of this problem. We cannot put enough people in jail to stop narcotics trafficking. There’s just too great a demand.”

The lecture included a history of Escobar, the violence of the Medellin cartel, smuggling tactics and the prison that Escobar built for himself and his compatriots.

“We never met him, but he knew us by name,” Murphy said. “He put a $300,000 bounty on our heads.”

DEA Reports Spike in Cocaine Availability And Use in U.S.

Cocaine-jpgBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A cocaine production boom in Colombia has increased use and availability of the drug in the United States for the first time in nearly a decade, the DEA reports.

The DEA’s 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment concluded that more cocaine is reaching the U.S.  because of increases in seizures and overdose deaths. 

The increase occurred between 2014 and 2015.

The DEA estimates a 67% increase in cocaine production in Columbia, one of the largest providers of the drug in the U.S.

The DEA also identified new risks, including cocaine mixed with the deadly opioid fentanyl.

Other Stories of Interest

The Capture of ‘El Chapo’ Elevates Columbian Woman to World’s Most Wanted Drug Lord

Maria Teresa Osorio de Serna, via twitter.

Maria Teresa Osorio de Serna, via twitter.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Now that notorious drug boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been captured in Mexico, the world’s most wanted drug lord is now a woman from Columbia, HNGN reports. 

Largely unknown, Maria Teresa Osorio de Serna is wanted for drug conspiracy charges and money laundering.

Although she has no criminal record, the woman is suspected of laundering millions of dollars from the notorious Medellin Cartel.

Other Stories of Interest

DEA Rarely Fires Agents Who Commit Serious Misconduct

dea-badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

DEA agents who have lied to authorities, falsified records, dealt drugs and committed other serious misconduct have been allowed to stay on the job, USA Today reports.

The discovery comes after lawmakers expressed frustration that agents were never fired for attending “sex parties” in Columbia.

Records from the DEA’s disciplinary files show that was hardly the only instance in which the DEA opted not to fire employees despite apparently serious misconduct, The USA Today writes.

The newspaper found that only 13 of the 50 employees recommended to be fired by the DEA’s Board of Professional Conduct were actually terminated.

“If we conducted an investigation, and an employee actually got terminated, I was surprised,” said Carl Pike, a former DEA internal affairs investigator. “I was truly, truly surprised. Like, wow, the system actually got this guy.”

Some members of Congress are calling for more action.

“There is a culture of protection internally that has to change. If there’s a bad apple, they need to be fired, if not prosecuted, and that’s just not happening,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Federal law enforcement should be held to the highest standard.”

Other Stories of Interest

DEA Agents Receive Lax Punishment Over ‘Sex Parties;’ Some Get Promoted

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The head of the DEA has come under fire over lax punishments for DEA agents accused of participating in “sex parties” with prostitutes in Columbia, The Huffington Post reports.

In fact, some of the accused agents received promotions. No one was fired.

Allegations of a sex party emerged last month following a critical report from the Justice Department’s Inspector General.

While one of the accused agents retired, the others were suspended for between one and 10 days.

DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart defended the actions before Congress.

Lawmakers were not happy.

“This new internal report details years of allegations — beginning in 2001 — that portray DEA agents as completely out of control,”  Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, said in a statement Tuesday. “They appear to have fraternized with cartel members, accepted lavish gifts, and paid for prostitutes with no concern for the negative repercussions or security vulnerabilities they created.”

Other Stories of Interest