Former Mexican federal police commander arrested for drug-trafficking conspiracy


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Ivan Reyes Arzate allegedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from Mexican drug cartels

Date: January 24, 2020


An indictment was filed yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn charging Ivan Reyes Arzate, a former Mexican Federal Police officer and commander of the Mexican Federal Police's Sensitive Investigative Units ("SIU"), with three counts of cocaine trafficking conspiracy. Reyes Arzate allegedly received bribes in exchange for assisting El Seguimiento 39, a Mexican cartel associated with the Sinaloa cartel, the Beltran Leyva Organization and other Mexican cartels, ship cocaine from Mexico to the United States. Earlier today, federal agents arrested Reyes Arzate in Brooklyn, and he was arraigned this morning before United States Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak. Reyes Arzate was remanded pending trial.

According to the indictment and other court filings, Mexican SIU officers routinely work with U.S. law enforcement to combat narcotics trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities. From 2003 to 2016, Reyes Arzate was a Mexican Federal Police officer assigned to SIU. In 2008, he was appointed SIU Commander, making him the its highest ranking officer and principal point of contact for information sharing between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement personnel assigned to the SIU.

From approximately September 2016 to November 2016, while serving as SIU commander, Reyes Arzate received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from El Seguimiento 39 in exchange for providing protection for the cartel's drug trafficking. Specifically, in exchange for a $290,000 bribe, he disclosed to the cartel's leadership sensitive information about a pending DEA investigation. The bribe payments have been corroborated by intercepted communications obtained pursuant to judicially-authorized wiretaps.

Earlier, in the mid-2000s, in exchange for cash bribes, Reyes Arzate allegedly provided sensitive law enforcement information to other Mexican drug cartels, including the Beltran Leyva Organization, which was then a faction of the Sinaloa cartel led by Joaquin Guzman Loera, also known as "El Chapo." As a result, these criminal enterprises operated without significant interference from Mexican law enforcement, and imported multi-ton quantities of cocaine and other drugs into the United States.

If convicted of the drug conspiracy charge, Reyes Arzate faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment.

This investigation was led by the New York Strike Force, a crime-fighting unit comprising federal, state and local law enforcement agencies supported by the Organized Crime DEA Task Force and the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. The Strike Force is based at the DEA's New York Division and includes agents and officers of U.S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the DEA, NYPD, NYSP, HSI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Secret Service, United States Marshals Service, New York National Guard, Clarkstown Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard, Port Washington Police Department and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.