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Former DEA agent & wife arrested for diverting drug proceeds to personal accounts

Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd class Brice Fronek, with Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber, guards contraband at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach, April 26, 2013. The contraband was seized during an interdiction in the Caribbean Sea, April 18, 2013. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sabrina Laberdesque)

A 19-count indictment was unsealed Friday against a former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) special agent and his wife for their alleged roles to divert drug proceeds from undercover money laundering investigations into bank accounts they, along with family members and criminal associates, controlled.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Tampa, IRS-Criminal Investigation (CI), the FBI, the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and DEA.

“The importance of this case cannot be overstated,” said HSI Tampa’s acting Special Agent in Charge Kevin Sibley. “Public trust is the cornerstone of law enforcement and anyone who violates that trust must be held accountable.”

Jose I. Irizarry, 46, and Nathalia Gomez-Irizarry (Gomez), 36, were arrested Friday morning at their residence near San Juan, Puerto Rico. Irizarry and Gomez made their first appearance in U.S. District Court in San Juan Friday and were released on bond. Their next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 26.

The indictment alleges that while working as an agent for the DEA in Miami and Cartagena, Colombia, Irizarry engaged in an illegal scheme to divert drug proceeds from undercover money laundering investigations into bank accounts controlled by himself and Gomez, their family members, and their criminal associates. To carry out the plot, Irizarry and his criminal associates are alleged to have opened a bank account with a stolen identity and then utilized the account to secretly send and receive drug proceeds from active DEA investigations.

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The indictment further alleges that Irizarry and Gomez used drug proceeds to purchase jewelry, a home and multiple luxury vehicles for themselves and their family. As alleged, Irizarry was in personal bankruptcy proceedings for nearly the duration of this criminal conduct and failed to disclose any of his illicit income to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Irizarry is charged with 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 is charged with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being prosecuted in the Northern District of Georgia.

The U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section’s Judicial Attaché’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and District of Puerto Rico, the Colombian Attorney General’s Office (Fiscalia General de la Nacion) and the South Florida Money Laundering Strike Force at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office provided valuable investigative assistance in this case.