US

Top Mexican Police Official Charged By DOJ For Helping Cartel Avoid Investigation

A former high-ranking Mexican cop has been charged in a Chicago federal court with helping out a Mexican drug cartel avoid an investigation, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday.

Ivan Reyes Arzate used his role as a top law enforcement official to warn the cartel members that they were the subject of a joint investigation between Mexican and American agencies, according to the complaint. Reyes, who is also known as “La Reina,” is the second senior Mexican law enforcement official to be charged in federal courts in the past week. A Mexican state attorney general Edgar “Diablo” Veytia was arrested last week after he allegedly made hundreds of millions of dollars from a drug trafficking operation.

According to the complaint, Reyes and his unnamed co-conspirators tipped off cartel members when the DEA received warrants to intercept phone calls and also revealed the identity of a confidential informant. Mexican drug cartels are infamous for their gruesome murders of “snitches.”

The complaint said that Reyes was the key contact between American and Mexican law enforcement in an investigation dealing with the trafficking of multiple tons of cocaine from Colombia which eventually reached U.S. cities.

“The criminal complaint announced today is the first step in holding Mr. Reyes accountable for attempting to impede that bilateral cooperation by allegedly obstructing a significant investigation for personal gain,”Acting U.S. Attorney Joel R. Levin of the Northern District of Illinois said in a statement.

U.S. law enforcement were tipped off by Reyes’ alleged illegal activities when a member of one of the drug trafficking operations had a police surveillance photo and was notified that he was the target of an investigation, the complaint said.

Officials also heard reference to Reyes in an intercepted phone call in which an alleged drug trafficker identified the leaker of information about the investigation as “Ivan.” The complaint goes on to say that the alleged head of a major cartel asked who this “Ivan” is, and the alleged drug dealer replied, “the boss.”

This is in reference to Reyes’ position as a commander with the Mexican Federal Police, according to the complaint. Then in November 2016, Reyes was photographed meeting in person with the alleged head of the Mexican cartel he was helping out.

He faces charges of conspiracy to corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding. This comes with a maximum sentence of five years.