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Veteran DEA agent stationed in Colombia under investigation for passing intelligence to drug cartels: Report

April 22, 2018  |  Posted by: Michael Falzarano
Veteran DEA agent stationed in Colombia under investigation for passing intelligence to drug cartels: Report

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A veteran DEA agent is under investigation for allegedly passing off intelligence to Colombian drug traffickers, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials revealed on Friday

Jose Irizarry, a former DEA agent who was stationed in Colombia, abruptly resigned his position with the agency Friday after the allegations surfaced,  per
Aram Roston, of Buzzfeed News, who first reported the investigation.

Sources told the news site that the allegations against Jose Irizarry could compromise U.S. law enforcement’s efforts to recruit confidential informants used to gather sensitive intelligence within the shadowy underworld surrounding international drug trafficking.

Any individual caught cooperating with authorities face certain death in countries such as Mexico and Colombia where ruthless drug cartels rule the landscape and hold massive influence.

Confidential sources remain a crucial mechanism for U.S. law enforcement officials to harvest vital intelligence for investigations against transnational drug trafficking organizations.

However, in recent years, the ability of U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to protect the safety of informants has been seriously questioned in recent years after several scandals involving agent misconduct embroiled the agency.

Recently, Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill demanded an inquiry into DEA-led operations in Mexico, after U.S. law enforcement officials shared intelligence with Mexican authorities, which ultimately ended up in the hands of top cartel bosses, resulting in two deadly attacks.

Moreover, a 2015 report by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog, implicated DEA officials stationed in Colombia for misconduct after several agents were busted attending sex parties paid for by drug cartels leaders over a period of several years.

The scandal subsequently resulted in the suspension of seven agents for misconduct and prompted the resignation of agency’s top administrator, Michele Leonhardt.

Additionally, another scandal could result in charges of obstruction of Justice and perjury along with an array of other accusations levied against a U.S. Drug Enforcement agent in New Orleans after members of a DEA task force were charged in the theft of drugs and cash stolen during federal drug raids.

The scandal has already produced guilty pleas by several other task force members.

The latest embarrassment involving the agency comes at a time when cocaine demand in the United States has surged.

Colombia remains the world’s largest producer of cocaine and the top supplier of white powder imported into the United States, making the South American country a vital operating ground for efforts led by U.S. federal agents working to dismantle transnational drug trafficking networks.

Although DEA officials have not revealed the extent of the intelligence Irizarry allegedly leaked to drug traffickers, a spokesman acknowledged that Irizarry held a uniquely sensitive position and was party to classified law enforcement efforts in Colombia.

“The matter remains ongoing within the DEA disciplinary system, and we cannot comment at this time,” DEA spokesman Melvin Patterson told The New York Times.

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