Iván Reyes Arzate: The United States sentences a former commander of the Mexican federal police to 10 years

A federal judge in the United States has sentenced the former commander of the Mexican federal police, Iván Reyes Arzate, to 10 years in prison. The former agent, nicknamed The Queen, confessed in October to having collaborated with drug trafficking while simulating —and even receiving international decorations— fighting organized crime with the United States Anti-Narcotics Agency (DEA). Arzate worked for a time under the orders of the then Secretary of Security Genaro García Luna, prosecuted and awaiting trial for corruption and organized crime. The sentence has included adding the two years he has already been in prison for his trial, so that he will face only eight more behind bars.

In Wednesday’s trial, it was revealed that Reyes received at least three million dollars in exchange for reporting on joint US and Mexican investigations to a group called El Monitoring 39, associated with the Sinaloa Cartel. In October, he himself acknowledged a bribe of 290,000. The indictment of the former police officer then opened the door to a collaboration with prosecutors and further complicates the future García Luna, the former Secretary of Security and lord of the war on drugs during the Government of Felipe Calderón (from 2006 to 2012). The trial against García Luna is scheduled to begin in October this year, after months of delays due to the pandemic.

Although the possible collaboration of Reyes with the US justice system to add evidence in the García Luna case has not been confirmed by the authorities, the sentence to which she has been sentenced raises suspicions about a possible agreement. Ten years in prison is well below the penalties established for this type of drug trafficking crime and in her case, aggravated by her charge in the police: the usual sentences are between 21 and 27 years in prison .

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The federal judge who has sentenced Reyes, Brian Cogan, is the same one who deals with García Luna and also the one who sentenced Joaquín to life imprisonment in 2019 El Chapo Guzmán in what the press called “the trial of the century.” It was in that same court in New York that García Luna’s name was publicly announced for the first time during the trial against El Chapo. Ishmael’s brother The May Zambada —the historic leader of Sinaloa—, Jesús El Rey Zambada, Guzmán’s partner, declared in a hearing in February 2018 that the Sinaloa Cartel had bribed García Luna with millions in payments on at least two occasions. Arrested in December 2019 in Texas, Calderón’s anti-drug czar is accused of being the arm of the government that facilitated the most powerful cartel in the world to operate with impunity in Mexico, including charges of distribution and possession of cocaine, as well as false statements before agents of the Customs and Immigration Service.

Since 2003, Reyes had been part of the Special Investigations Unit of the Federal Police, the area dedicated to fighting organized crime in close collaboration with agents from the DEA, the US anti-drug agency. In 2008, Reyes was promoted to head of the department, thus becoming one of García Luna’s most trusted men, who had been appointed Secretary of Security two years earlier by Calderón to lead a strategy against drug trafficking that went through the mass exit of the military from the barracks to patrol the Mexican streets.

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Reyes Arzate has been imprisoned in the United States since 2017. He was sentenced in 2018 to three years in prison by another Chicago court for obstruction of justice. But in January of last year, when he was about to serve his sentence, the New York court again accused him of more charges related to drug trafficking and attracted his case. “While Reyes directed the special unit of the Mexican federal Police and worked together with DEA ​​agents, he was also meeting with cartel leaders,” the Justice Department note read.

With Reyes’ sentence, US justice has considered him a traitor of the Holy Trinity of the drug war: he allegedly conspired against the United States Anti-Drug Agency (DEA), the FBI and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service, for its acronym in English). “By accepting thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for information, Reyes Arzate forged an alliance with drug traffickers and betrayed, not only the people of Mexico, but also the US agents with whom he worked, putting their lives at risk,” he pointed out. Prosecutor Breon Peace.

In a letter that he read in front of the judge, Reyes Arzate defined himself as “a man who does not run away from his responsibilities” and stressed that “he came to surrender despite the fact that others recommended that he not do so.” Prosecutor Ryan Harris, present at the hearing, complained about the difficulty of working with local police in countries taken over by drug traffickers: “It is very easy for them to accept bribes from the cartels.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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