In September, federal prosecutors filed charges against a dual Venezuelan-American citizen named Gustavo Yabrudi in a Tampa federal court over a drug-ring funded conspiracy to commit money laundering. The federal indictment also listed three unnamed, unindicted co-conspirators. The Associated Press has now learned that one of the co-conspirators is a former Miami-based United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent.
According to the AP report, former DEA agent Jose Irizarry became entangled in the plot while Yabrudi was working as his confidential informant. The indictment paints a picture of lavish spending, as Irizarry allegedly threw lavish yacht parties and spent wildly on travel, luggage, and jewelry. This double life was paid for by stealing cash from drug cartels while working in Cartagena, Colombia, and laundering the money in South Florida.
Irizarry wasn't just a run-of-the-mill DEA agent, either. Considered a rising star in the agency, Irizarry was responsible for many high-profile drug busts in Miami before he accepted a new assignment in the Cartagena office. According to unnamed insiders speaking anonymously to the AP, this scandal has the potential to be the worst black eye in the history of the DEA.
There were allegedly many signs pointing to Irizarry and his unusual spending habits. Despite having filed for personal bankruptcy in 2010, he was spending lavishly shortly after arriving in Colombia. It is also alleged that his second wife was related to members of a Colombia drug cartel. Allegedly, Irizarry and his co-conspirators were skimming cash off of Colombian drug sales in the United States and shipping the money to Colombia to take advantage of very favorable black market dollars-to-pesos exchange rates. Irizarry, Yabrudi, and others allegedly opened a Florida-based cell phone company to buy phones with drug cash. The phones would then be exported to Colombia and sold for pesos in order to launder the drug money.
But the cartel wasn't the only entity Irizarry was alleged to have robbed. According to court records, Irizarry and the other conspirators were also stealing from the DEA. It is believed that the conspiracy involved embezzlement from undercover accounts controlled by the DEA. In one case, an $87,000 wire transfer to a Cali Cartel drug trafficker went missing. A tip from an informant regarding this transfer ultimately led to the arrest of Yabrudi.
While Irizarry has not yet been charged with a crime, it is likely he will face substantial criminal charges in the near future. Irizarry could be charged with drug crimes as well as money laundering crimes. In fact, Irizarry could ultimately face prosecution on both state and charges.
If you have been charged with a drug-related offense, you are in serious legal jeopardy. Time is of the essence; it is critical that you work quickly to hire an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney to defend your rights. In some cases, an attorney may be able to work with the prosecutor and secure a dismissal of the charges against you. If you are facing charges in the Tampa area, attorney Omar Abdelghany can help. Contact the OA Law Firm for your free consultation today.