Former Mexican Federal Police Commander Sentenced to 10 Years’ Imprisonment for Drug Trafficking Conspiracy

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Earlier today in federal court in Brooklyn, Ivan Reyes Arzate, a former Mexican Federal Police Officer and Commander of the Mexican Federal Police’s Sensitive Investigative Unit (“SIU”), was sentenced by United States District Judge Brian M. Cogan to 10 years’ imprisonment for participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy.  Reyes Arzate accepted a bribe in exchange for agreeing to assist El Seguimiento 39, a Mexico-based cartel, ship cocaine from Mexico to the United States.  The El Seguimiento 39 cartel is associated with the Sinaloa Cartel, the Beltran Leyva Organization and other Mexico-based cartels.  Reyes Arzate pleaded guilty to the charge in October 2021.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Timothy Foley, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Division (DEA); Ricky J. Patel, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York (HSI); Keechant L. Sewell, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD); and Kevin P. Bruen, Superintendent, New York State Police (NYSP), announced the sentence.

“In betraying his oath and partners in law enforcement in exchange for cash bribes, Arzate became a willing participant in drug trafficking and in spreading massive and dangerous amounts of cocaine in our communities,” stated United States Attorney Peace.  “Corrupt police officers who use their government positions to further the interests of the drug cartels and harm our communities will be brought to justice and punished for their crimes.  Their badges will not shield them from accountability.”  Mr. Peace expressed his appreciation to the United States Attorney’s Offices for the Southern District of California and the Northern District of Illinois for their assistance on the case.

“Reyes Arzate’s crimes were an affront to law enforcement, especially those working to suppress illegal drug’s from hitting American streets.   Today’s sentencing demonstrates DEA and our law enforcement partners’ commitment to the Rule of Law.  I commend the New York Strike Force and the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York for their diligent work,” stated DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Foley.

“Azarte was entrusted with protecting the people of Mexico as a public servant, but instead served himself by lining his pockets with cartel cash,” stated HSI Acting Special Agent- in-Charge Patel.  “Azarte betrayed his country, his community, and his brothers and sisters in law enforcement when he took bribes in exchange for valuable law enforcement information and conspired with narcotics traffickers to import hundreds of kilograms of cocaine into the United States.  Today’s sentence sends a clear message that anyone who violates their oath of office and decides to partner with drug cartels will face severe consequences and will be held accountable for their reprehensible violation of the public’s trust.”

According to court filings, SIU officers in Mexico 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 its highest-ranking officer and principal point of contact for information sharing between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement personnel assigned to the SIU.

In approximately November 2016, while participating in a joint investigation of El Seguimiento 39 with U.S. law enforcement authorities, Reyes Arzate met with the leadership of El Seguimiento 39, shared with them information about the U.S. law enforcement investigation, and accepted a $290,000 bribe in exchange for his agreement to assist the cartel. The amount of cocaine involved in the conspiracy attributable to the defendant as a result of his conduct, and the conduct of others, was more than 450 kilograms.

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 the DEA, NYPD, NYSP, HSI, U.S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, 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 government’s case is being handled by the Office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section and Public Integrity Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Ryan Harris and Philip Pilmar are in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendant:

IVAN REYES ARZATE
Age:  49
Mexico City, Mexico

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 20-CR-30 (BMC)