Ex-Mexican federal officer admits taking bribes from cartel

Associated Press (AP) — A former Mexican federal police commander admitted Tuesday that he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to help cartels ship cocaine into the United States.

Ivan Reyes Arzate served for years as a main point of contact for intelligence sharing between the United States and the Mexican federal police.

He pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in New York to conspiring with the El Seguimiento 39 drug cartel, which authorities said is associated with the notorious Sinaloa Cartel, whose former leader is Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Arzate previously was sentenced to three years in U.S. federal prison after pleading no contest in Chicago to charges he traded secrets to Mexico’s Beltran Leyva cartel, which was then a faction of Guzman’s cartel. Federal prosecutors in that case said Arzate had drawn on access to U.S. intelligence to help unmask a cartel informant who was later tortured and killed.

Breon Peace, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, said in a statement Tuesday that 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.”

A message was sent to Arzate’s defense attorney seeking comment.

Arzate, 49, of Mexico City, worked as a police officer in the Sensitive Investigative Unit of the Mexican federal police beginning in 2003.

He was appointed commander of the unit in 2008, making him its highest-ranking officer and the main point of contact for information sharing between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement assigned to these units.

In late 2016, as Mexican and U.S. authorities were investigating El Seguimiento 39, Arzate met with the cartel’s leaders and shared information with them about the investigation, prosecutors said.

He also accepted a $290,000 bribe to assist the group, prosecutors said.

Arzate is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 6. He faces up to 40 years in prison.

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