Former Mexican police chief, in Brooklyn Federal Court, pleads guilty to drug conspiracy
On Monday in Brooklyn Federal Court Ivan Reyes Arzate, a former Mexican federal police officer and commander of the Mexican Federal Police’s Sensitive Investigative Unit (“SIU”), pleaded guilty to cocaine trafficking conspiracy.
Reyes Arzate received a bribe in exchange for agreeing to assist the El Seguimiento 39 drug cartel ship cocaine from Mexico to the United States. The El Seguimiento 39 cartel is associated with the Sinaloa Cartel, the Beltran Leyva Organization and other Mexico-based cartels.
Monday’s proceeding was held before U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan.
From 2003 to 2016, Reyes Arzate was a Mexican Federal Police Officer assigned to SIU. In 2008, he was appointed SIU Commander, making him its highest-ranking officer and principal point of contact for information-sharing between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement personnel assigned to the SIU.
In approximately November 2016, while participating in a joint investigation of El Seguimiento 39 with U.S. law enforcement authorities, Reyes Arzate met with the leadership of El Seguimiento 39, shared with them information about the U.S. law enforcement investigation, and accepted a $290,000 bribe in exchange for his agreement to assist the cartel.
When sentenced, Reyes Arzate faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
Breon Peace, United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Ray Donovan, special agent-in-charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Division; Ricky J. Patel, acting special agent-in-charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York; Dermot F. Shea, commissioner, and Kevin P. Bruen, superintendent, New York State Police (NYSP), announced the guilty plea.
“By accepting thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for information about law enforcement’s investigation into the El Seguimiento 39 cartel, Arzate forged a deplorable alliance with drug traffickers, and betrayed not only the people of Mexico he was sworn to protect, but also his law enforcement partners who put themselves at risk to disrupt the cartel,” stated United States Attorney Peace.
“Reyes-Arzate turned a blind eye toward drug traffickers, enabling criminal enterprises to operate with impunity, while serving as a Commander in the Mexican Federal Police. DEA and our law enforcement partners worked tirelessly to isolate and identify this bad seed and bring him to justice,” said DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Donovan.
This investigation was led by the New York Strike Force, a crime-fighting unit comprising federal, state and local law enforcement agencies supported by the Organized Crime DEA Task Force and the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. The Strike Force is based at the DEA’s New York Division and includes agents and officers of the DEA, NYPD, NYSP, HSI, U.S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Secret Service, United States Marshals Service, New York National Guard, Clarkstown Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard, Port Washington Police Department and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering and Public Integrity Sections. Assistant United States Attorneys Ryan Harris and Philip Pilmar are in charge of the prosecution.
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