Former Mexico police chief pleads guilty to accepting $290,000 from a drug cartel

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Iván Reyes Arzate, former commander of the Federal Police's Sensitive Investigative Unit, pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn, New York, federal court Tuesday and admitted that the El Seguimiento 39 criminal organization bribed him with $290,000 following a November 2016 meeting

Iván Reyes Arzate, former commander of the Federal Police’s Sensitive Investigative Unit, pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn, New York, federal court Tuesday and admitted that the El Seguimiento 39 criminal organization bribed him with $290,000 following a November 2016 meeting

A former Mexican police chief pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn federal court Tuesday to receiving payments from a drug cartel that helped traffic cocaine to the United States and ratting out a DEA snitch who was later killed.

Iván Reyes Arzate, 49, former commander of the Federal Police’s Sensitive Investigative Unit, admitted that the El Seguimiento 39 criminal organization bribed him with $290,000 following a November 2016 meeting.

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‘Being a member of the Mexican public service and in exchange for a payment, I agreed to give a drug trafficking organization data that would facilitate the distribution of cocaine, being aware that this was a crime,’ Reyes Arzate told U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan.

Reyes Arzate participated in a U.S.-run investigation of the El Seguimiento 39 drug trafficking organization, which is aligned with the Sinaloa Cartel, the Beltran Leyva Organization and other Mexico-based cartels.

Known as ‘La Reina’ or ‘The Queen,’ Reyes Arzate met the El Seguimiento 39 cartel’s leadership and passed along information about the investigation in exchange for the cash compensation. 

Arturo Beltrán-Leyva, co-founder of the Beltrán Leyva Organization reportedly paid Iván Reyes Arzate and two other cops  $3 million in 2008 for information on a DEA informant who was later kidnapped and killed

Arturo Beltrán-Leyva, co-founder of the Beltrán Leyva Organization reportedly paid Iván Reyes Arzate and two other cops  $3 million in 2008 for information on a DEA informant who was later kidnapped and killed

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In 2008, Reyes Arzate and two other cops took in $3 million from the Beltrán Leyva Organization after they provided background information on a DEA informant, who had been arrested in Miami. 

The disgraced police commander and the other agents met in Mexico City with then cartel leader Arturo Beltrán-Leyva with a photo of the informant, who was later kidnapped and killed.

The Beltrán-Leyva Organization also paid Reyes Arzate $500,000 to apprehend American-born drug lord and former associated Edgar ‘La Barbie’ Valdez Villareal. 

He was caught at a rural home outside Mexico City in August 2010 and is serving a 49-year sentence at a federal prison in Florida.

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Reyes Arzate was arrested in April 2017 shortly before the Drug Enforcement Administration intercepted a call between two drug traffickers who described the former top cop’s crooked ways.

Edgar 'La Barbie' Valdez Villareal (pictured), an American-born enforcer for the Beltran-Leyva  Organization and Sinaloa cartels, was arrested in August 2010 after Beltran-Leyva Organization leaders paid $500,000 to Iván Reyes Arzate, who at the time was the commander of Mexico's Federal Police's Sensitive Investigative Unit. On Tuesday, Reyes Arzate pleaded guilty to taking bribes from Mexican criminal organizations

Edgar ‘La Barbie’ Valdez Villareal (pictured), an American-born enforcer for the Beltran-Leyva  Organization and Sinaloa cartels, was arrested in August 2010 after Beltran-Leyva Organization leaders paid $500,000 to Iván Reyes Arzate, who at the time was the commander of Mexico’s Federal Police’s Sensitive Investigative Unit. On Tuesday, Reyes Arzate pleaded guilty to taking bribes from Mexican criminal organizations

Genaro García Luna, Mexico's former security minister under President Felipe Calderón, reportedly took millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel while Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán was running the organization. According to The Associated Press, Tuesday's guilty plea entered in a New York federal court by former Mexican police commander Iván Reyes Arzate could spell trouble for García Luna as it is believed he is cooperating or will be cooperating with prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York

Genaro García Luna, Mexico’s former security minister under President Felipe Calderón, reportedly took millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel while Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán was running the organization. According to The Associated Press, Tuesday’s guilty plea entered in a New York federal court by former Mexican police commander Iván Reyes Arzate could spell trouble for García Luna as it is believed he is cooperating or will be cooperating with prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York

Reyes Arzate started out as a cop assigned to the Sensitive Investigation Unit in 2003 and was promoted to commander in 2008. Under his position, he shared information between United Staes authorities and their counterparts in SIU. 

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The division regularly partners with law enforcement departments in the United States on investigations into drug trafficking, money laundering and other illicit activities. 

A Chicago federal court found Reyes Arzate guilty of leaking investigation details to cartels in Mexico, sentencing him to three years and four months in November 2018. 

He was set to be released from prison January 23, 2020, but a New York grand jury returned an indictment accusing him of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to import cocaine and international conspiracy of cocaine distribution. He was arrested several days later.

According to The Associated Press, Reyes’s plea means that he is working or will work with federal prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York in their case against Genaro García Luna.

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Luna was arrested in Texas in December 2019 and is being held in New York on charges he accepted millions of dollars in bribes from Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán’s Sinaloa Cartel while he was the security chief under former President Felipe Calderón from 2006 to 2012 and oversaw the government’s war against drug cartels.

‘By accepting thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for information about law enforcement’s investigation into the El Seguimiento 39 cartel, Arzate forged a deplorable alliance with drug traffickers, and betrayed not only the people of Mexico he was sworn to protect, but also his law enforcement partners who put themselves at risk to disrupt the cartel,’ United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace said in a statement.

Reyes Arzate is scheduled to be sentenced January 6, 2022. He is facing five to 40 years in prison.

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