DEA Agent Sought, Charged with Helping Cartels Launder Money, Stealing Millions

The federal government reported on Tuesday that a Drug Enforcement officer has been charged with running a wide-ranging money laundering scheme that enriched the cartels and made himself millions.

DEA agent Jose Irizarry now stands accused of a massive conspiracy to launder more than $7 million in drug money, the Associated Press reported.

Irizarry is accused of laundering “more than $7 million in illicit drug proceeds, sometimes using an underground network known as the black-market peso exchange, according to five current and former law enforcement officials.”

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The case is being called “one of the biggest black eyes in the history of the DEA.”

Worse, the errant agent’s actions likely benefitted some major bad guys.

The conspiracy not only allegedly enriched Irizarry but is believed to have benefited one of South America’s top money launderers, who is a relative of Irizarry’s Colombian wife, said the officials, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the federal investigation.

Irizarry worked out of the Colombia field office and his actions have now thrown suspicion on the DEA’s entire operations there.

Some of the details emerged in a federal case in Tampa, Florida, in which a former DEA informant, Gustavo Yabrudi, a dual Venezuelan-American citizen, recently pleaded guilty to money laundering. That case refers to an unnamed “co-conspirator 3” — a suspect who is in fact Irizarry, the five officials said.

Worse, it appears that Irizarry has slipped custody. The agent resigned when he got word he was being recalled to D.C. and then he disappeared.

Amazingly, the DEA didn’t seem to catch the warning signs when Irizarry declared bankruptcy in 2010 with assets of $500,000. How a moderatly-paid DEA agent could have such debts no one seemed to question.

It all seems like a bad movie plot.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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