Once-standout DEA agent says he conspired with drug cartel

Once-standout DEA agent says he conspired with drug cartel

TAMPA, Fla. — A once-standout US narcotics agent admitted Monday to conspiring to launder money with the same Colombian cartel he was sworn to fight — one of the most egregious betrayals of the badge in the history of US Drug Enforcement Administration.

The disgraced agent, Jose I. Irizarry, pleaded guilty to 19 federal counts, including bank fraud and having diverted millions of dollars in drug proceeds from DEA control.

The prosecution was not only an embarrassment for the DEA but could have long-lasting implications on its undercover money-laundering operations. It also raised questions about the level of supervision Irizarry received during his career, in which he had been entrusted with the government’s use of front companies, shell bank accounts and couriers to combat international drug trafficking.

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Timothy J. Shea, the DEA’s acting administrator, said Irizarry’s crimes “do not reflect the high standards of conduct we demand of our employees and our agents.”

“Corruption and betrayal of the American people —

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