01 Aug 2019
AP — The star witness in a U.S. investigation of a once-standout Drug Enforcement Administration agent was sentenced Wednesday to nearly four years in prison after implicating his longtime handler in a multimillion-dollar money-laundering conspiracy with the very Colombian cartel criminals he was supposed to be fighting.
The 46-month sentence for Gustavo Yabrudi was handed down after a hearing in which a judge in Tampa, Florida, opted to keep secret the location of the DEA informant’s confinement out of concerns for his safety.
Since his arrest last year, Yabrudi has met more than six times with federal agents investigating his DEA handler, José Irizarry. Law enforcement officials believe Irizarry played a leading role in a conspiracy to launder more than $7 million in illicit drug proceeds, though no charges against him have been announced since he resigned after he was recalled from Colombia to Washington in 2017.
Irizarry had been a model agent, winning praise from his supervisors, and while an agent in Miami was entrusted with an undercover money laundering operation using front companies, shell bank accounts and couriers.
The case is one of the biggest black eyes in the history of the DEA, an agency that has seen repeated scandals in recent years, and one that officials fear could have compromised undercover operations in the U.S. and South America.
The DEA did not comment on the status of the case.
Yabrudi’s sentencing shed no new light on the Irizarry investigation. The case against Yabrudi referred only to an unnamed “co-conspirator 3” — a suspect who is Irizarry, according to five current and former law enforcement officials.
But the hearing did offer new details on Yabrudi’s service as a longtime DEA informant.
By Joshua Goodman and Jim Mustian, AP, 31 July 2019
Read more at the Associated Press
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