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Tag: drug traffickers

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.

Sharp Rise in Illegal Drug Seizures As Cartels Adapt to Coronavirus Pandemic

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities are reporting a steep rise in the seizure of illegal drugs as cartels adopt to new tactics during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan.

Most notably, meth seizures along the border through August have more than doubled over all of fiscal year 2019. Marijuana and fentanyl seizures also are higher than last year.

Via CBP.

“Cartels are constantly finding new and innovative ways to smuggle not only illegal immigrants, but also drugs,” Morgan said, BorderReport.com reports. “We saw a precipitous drop in March but they changed their tactics and procedures quickly and are right back on top.”

After a sharp decline in drug trafficking amid the pandemic, drug traffickers are now focusing on deadly drugs that are easier to hide and more cost-effective to ship. Morgan pointed to the seizure in mid-August of 158 pounds of liquid meth that were concealed in three cases of bottled water.

Seizures of drugs such as meth, heroin and fentanyl rose 56% in August compared to July.

The increase in drug trafficking has translated to a surge in violence in Mexican border towns, Morgan said. Since the end of August, Tijuana has reported 1,339 homicides, many of them drug-related.

Former Border Patrol Agent Who Helped Drug Traffickers Gets 6 Years in Prison

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A former Border Patrol agent in Arizona was sentenced to six years in prison after admitting he helped drug traffickers cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

Jose Antonio Yanez, 50, was also ordered to pay more than $340,000 of his salary back while conspiring with traffickers, KVOA reports.

Yanez had pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana, receiving a bribe, and importation of a schedule IV controlled substance. At the time, Yanez was working at Border Patrol’s Douglas and Naco stations.

According to prosecutors, Yanez assisted smugglers carrying marijuana by providing sensitive material and information, turning cameras away from the smugglers and vacating his area of responsibility as the smuggling vehicles crossed the border.

FBI Joins Investigation of Deadly Attack on Family Near U.S.-Mexico Border

Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI is joining the investigation into the attack that killed nine Mexican Americans last week near the U.S. border.

The deadly ambush in broad daylight left three women and six children dead after suspected drug cartels riddled the Mormon family’s SUV convoy with bullets on Nov. 4.

“The FBI will be providing assistance at the invitation of the Mexican government with the investigation into the recent attack against American citizens,” the FBI said in a statement, according to CNN. “The FBI remains committed to working alongside our international partners to help bring justice to the perpetrators of this heinous act of violence.”

Mexico’s foreign ministry invited the FBI to help.

Mexican authorities believe rival drug cartels attacked the family as part of a case of mistaken identity.

Last week, Trump offered to send U.S. troops to Mexica to “wipe” the cartels “off the face of the earth.”

Retired DEA Agent Accused of Helping Drug Traffickers in Exchange for $250K

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A now-retired DEA agent is accused of accepting $250,000 in bribes to protect drug traffickers that he believed had ties to “Italian organized crime.”

Joseph Bongiovanni, 55, was charged with 11 counts in a federal case that alleges he took bribes from at least 2008 until he retired in February, Buffalo Law Journal reports, citing the indictment.

The Tonawanda, N.Y., resident faces up to life in prison on a drug conspiracy charge.

The indictment alleges Bongiovanni shared inside DEA information with his friends and associates who dealt large quantities of cocaine and marijuana. Prosecutors say he lied to the DEA, hid information from the agency and dissuaded colleagues from investigating the drug traffickers.

Ex-DEA Special Agent Pleads Guilty to Selling Guns to Suspected Drug Traffickers

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A former supervisory special agent for the DEA in Nogales, Ariz., faces up to five years in prison for illegally selling firearms, including to suspected drug traffickers.

Joseph Gill pleaded guilty Tuesday to illegally selling firearms, including two rifles to men “he had reason to believe intended to use or dispose of the firearms unlawfully, Tucson News Now reports.

Gill, who sold the guns without a Federal Firearms License, is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 26.

According to the Justice Department, Gill purchased firearms from licensed dealers and sold them online.

Investigators said Gill sold two Colt rifles in June 2016 to suspected drug dealers, according to an ATF investigation. Authorities said one rifle was smuggled into Mexico and another was seized at a port of authority.

Gill resigned from the DEA on June 30.

Border Patrol Agent Indicted for Allegedly Lying about Ties to Mexican Drug Traffickers

Border marker, via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent accused of lying twice about his ties to two Mexican drug traffickers has been indicted by a San Diego federal grand jury.

The indictment alleges Agent Ramon Delgado lied about his relationships with drug traffickers during an interview and in his pre-employment background questionnaire, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

Delgado, 44, faces up to five years in prison on a count of making false statements to the federal government.

The investigation began following suspicions that Delgado assisted a drug trafficking organization that smuggled heron, meth and cocaine into the U.S. According to prosecutors, Delgado maintained a close relationship with the two drug traffickers while working for Border Patrol.

Congressman Pushes Bill to Rename ATF Headquarters After Slain Agent Ariel Rios

Ariel Rios

Ariel Rios

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Congressman André Carson from Indiana hopes history repeats itself.

The Congressman has introduced a bill to name ATF headquarters at 99 New York Avenue NE in Washington as the Ariel Rios Federal Building.

ATF agent Rios, 28, was murdered by drug traffickers in Miami in 1982 while assigned to then Vice President George Bush’s South Florida Drug Task Force. He was the first ATF agent killed by hostile action.

It’s not such an unusual request considering the old ATF headquarters at 1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW was named after Rios in 1985.

In 2007, ATF moved into a more secure headquarters on New York Avenue, but Congress never named the new building after Rios.

“Naming the ATF headquarters after Ariel Rios is an important symbolic reminder of risks faced by ATF’s front line agents and their ongoing service to our country,” said Rep. Carson in a letter to colleagues asking them to co-sponsor the bill. “As a former law enforcement officer, I believe this important recognition  of Ariel Rios will serve as a tribute to every frontline law enforcement officer past, present, and future.”

According to ATF, Rios and another agent, Alex D’Atri,  made arrangements to meet with two suspects at the Hurricane Motel in Miami to make an undercover buy of large quantities of cocaine and machineguns. One of the suspects suddenly became suspicious, drew his weapon and made threats.

Rios struggled with him and was shot. He died shortly after in the hospital. The other agent, D’Atri, was shot and wounded but survived.   

Read Rep. André Carson’s full letter to Congressional colleagues.

Dear Colleague:

I am writing to ask you to cosponsor the “Ariel Rios Federal Building Act”
which  will name the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
(ATF) headquarters in honor of its first special agent killed by hostile
action. This bill will designate the federal building at 99 New York Avenue,
NE Washington D.C. as the Ariel Rios Federal Building. Ariel Rios was a
young ATF special agent murdered by drug traffickers in 1982 while assigned
to then Vice President George Bush’s South Florida Drug Task Force.

In 1985, Congress designated the ATF headquarters building at 1200
Pennsylvania Avenue as the Ariel Rios Memorial Federal Building.  The
designation honored both the personal sacrifice of Ariel Rios and served as
an enduring reminder of the dangers that front line law enforcement officers
willingly confront to keep the rest of us safe.  For nearly 30 years, the
original ATF headquarters building bore the name of Ariel Rios.

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