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Press Release

Former Mexican Federal Police Commander Arrested for Drug-Trafficking Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
Ivan Reyes Arzate Allegedly Received Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars in Bribes from Mexican Drug Cartels

An indictment was filed yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn charging Ivan Reyes Arzate, a former Mexican Federal Police Officer and Commander of the Mexican Federal Police’s Sensitive Investigative Units (“SIU”), with three counts of cocaine trafficking conspiracy.  Reyes Arzatel allegedly received bribes in exchange for assisting El Seguimiento 39, a Mexican Cartel associated with the Sinaloa Cartel, the Beltran Leyva Organization and other Mexican cartels, ship cocaine from Mexico to the United States.  Earlier today, federal agents arrested Reyes Arzate in Brooklyn, and he was arraigned this morning before United States Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak.  Reyes Arzate was remanded pending trial.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Ray Donovan, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Division (DEA); Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York Field Office (HSI); Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD); and Keith M. Corlett, Superintendent, New York State Police (NYSP), announced the charges.

“By choosing to align himself with drug traffickers instead of the people of Mexico that he was sworn to protect, Reyes Arzate’s corruption ensured the safe passage of massive quantities of illegal narcotics into the United States,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “This Office will continue working tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to make enablers of drug cartels answer for their crimes, whoever they are and wherever they operate.”  Mr. Donoghue expressed his grateful 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.

“Collective law enforcement efforts to cut off drug cartels’ supply chain into the United States has led to worldwide arrests, including Ivan Reyes Arzate,” stated DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Donovan. “I applaud our federal, state, local and international law enforcement partners for their diligent work on this significant investigation.”

“As a Commander in the Mexican Federal Police, Arzate allegedly offered protection of the cartel’s criminal activities in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes,” stated HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Fitzhugh.  “Arzate’s corruption as the highest-ranking officer in the MFP’s Sensitive Investigative Unit allowed violent cartels to continue the flow of drugs through the region without consequence, but it is clear today that no one is exempt from justice.”

"This case shows no one is exempt from the law, and those who choose a life of crime, no matter their rank or employment, will be brought to justice,” stated NYSP Superintendent Corlett.  “This suspect gave in to greed, putting people and communities at risk, when he should have been doing his job to protect them.  I commend the great work of the New York Strike Force in this case. We will continue to make it our priority to find and dismantle violent enterprises and partnerships to make our streets safer.”

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

From approximately September 2016 to November 2016, while serving as SIU commander, Reyes Arzate received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from El Seguimiento 39 in exchange for providing protection for the cartel’s drug trafficking.  Specifically, in exchange for a $290,000 bribe, he disclosed to the cartel’s leadership sensitive information about a pending DEA investigation.  The bribe payments have been corroborated by intercepted communications obtained pursuant to judicially-authorized wiretaps. 

Earlier, in the mid-2000s, in exchange for cash bribes, Reyes Arzate allegedly provided sensitive law enforcement information to other Mexican drug cartels, including the Beltran Leyva Organization, which was then a faction of the Sinaloa Cartel led by Joaquin Guzman Loera, also known as “El Chapo.”  As a result, these criminal enterprises operated without significant interference from Mexican law enforcement, and imported multi-ton quantities of cocaine and other drugs into the United States.

If convicted of the drug conspiracy charge, Reyes Arzate faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment.

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 charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. 

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section and the Public Integrity Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Michael P. Robotti, Ryan Harris and Erin Reid are in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendant:

Age:  57
Mexico City, Mexico

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


John Marzulli
United States Attorney’s Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated January 24, 2020

Drug Trafficking
Public Corruption