DEA agent José Irizarry and his wife Nathalia Gomez, Colombian cartel


DEA agent José Irizarry and his wife Nathalia Gomez, Colombian cartel

Former DEA agent convicted of working with a Colombian narcotics organization and sentenced to 12 years in federal prison.

On Thursday, a former DEA agent was sentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison for colluding with a Colombian drug cartel.

According to the US Department of Justice, José Irizarry and his wife Nathalia Gomez-Irizarry pled guilty in September 2020 for their roles in a seven-year operation that moved roughly $9 million in cocaine revenues from undercover money laundering investigations into banks.

Gomez-Irizarry, 36, was sentenced to 60 months of probation nearly a year ago on Dec. 17 on one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The disgraced DEA special agent was sentenced to 145 months in federal prison on Thursday for running a money laundering and fraud operation while acting as a DEA special agent.

According to authorities, Irizarry perpetrated the fraud while serving as a DEA special agent. The 46-year-old Puerto Rican native and his co-conspirators opened a bank account using a stolen identity and then used the account to receive the misdirected funds.

The pair got at least $1 million from the conspiracy, which lasted throughout Irizarry's tenure with the DEA's Miami Field Division and Cartagena, Colombia, headquarters.

The Irizarrys were able to purchase luxury sports cars, a $30,000 Tiffany diamond ring, and a $767,000 property in the Caribbean resort city of Cartagena, as well as residences in Florida and Puerto Rico, as a result of the plan.

They were also well-known to DEA agents for their extravagant lifestyles, which included hosting opulent yacht parties.

"Irizarry violated his oath of service by using his position to advance the illegal activities of a dangerous drug cartel while profiting himself," IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Brian Payne said in a statement. "While his acts constitute a flagrant violation of the public trust, they in no way reflect the overwhelming majority of special agents who serve with honor and integrity."

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department's Criminal Division stated that the department "has zero tolerance for public office abuse and is committed to ferreting out and prosecuting corruption wherever it is found, particularly among law enforcement ranks."

Irizarry agreed to the offenses but also accused former colleagues for what he described as a corrupt culture that led him to overlook the consequences of breaching the law.

"When my client joined the DEA, he was taught how to be corrupt and how to violate the law," his attorney, Mara Dominguez, testified in court.

Judge Charlene Honeywell of the United States District Court ordered Irizarry to pay $11,233 in restitution and forfeit a diamond ring and a fancy sports automobile he purchased with the money.

Irizarry sobbed throughout Thursday's sentencing.

"Unfortunately, there came a point when I made a decision that contradicted who I was, that harmed my wife, and shamed my country," he said in his opening statement to the court. "I should have known better and failed to do so. "I erred."

Irizarry was promptly sentenced to prison and remanded into the custody of the United States Marshals Service.