Former DEA Agent, Wife Plead Guilty to $9 Million Drug Money Diversion Scheme

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
September 15, 2020Updated: September 15, 2020

A former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) special agent and his wife pleaded guilty on Monday to being part of a scheme that diverted over $9 million in proceeds from undercover money laundering investigations.

The money was sent to bank accounts that Jose Ismael Irizarry, 46, and his wife, Nathalia Gomez-Irizarry, 36, controlled, along with co-conspirators.

The couple pleaded guilty at the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. They’ll be sentenced at a later date.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Rabbitt called what happened “a shocking breach of the public’s trust.”

Irizarry, along with his wife, “abused his position by illegally diverting millions of dollars in drug proceeds from undercover operations to personally benefit themselves,” Rabbitt added in a statement.

“This former federal agent turned his back on the people he swore to protect and caved to greed and deceit,” said Special Agent in Charge Michael 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.”

Irizarry filed for personal bankruptcy in 2010. Shortly after, he began using his position to divert funds from DEA operations to himself and his co-conspirators.

The money was used to buy jewelry, luxury cars, and a home.

Irizarry was working through 2018 for the DEA’s Miami office and an office it has in Cartagena, Colombia.

Gomez-Irizarry, meanwhile, admitted that she let her bank accounts and a Florida company she ran to be used in the scheme.

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.

A lawyer representing the couple didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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