When the United States shared key intelligence about some of Mexico’s deadliest drug cartels with its southern neighbor, that highly sensitive information would often flow through Ivan Reyes Arzate.
Reyes, 45, of Mexico City, served as recently as November as the highest-ranking member of the Mexican Federal Police’s sensitive investigative unit.
Or, as the leader of one drug cartel was told, he was “the boss.”
But years earlier, the feds say Reyes found himself among other corrupt cops at a 2009 meeting convened by drug kingpin Arturo Beltran Leyva in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Before that meeting ended, Reyes would share in a $3 million bounty for having unmasked a DEA informant. And that informant would later be kidnapped, tortured and killed.
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Now, Reyes, also known as “La Reina,” is in federal custody in Chicago and charged with conspiracy to corruptly influence and impede an official proceeding. He is accused of warning members of a Mexican drug cartel when they were targets of a DEA investigation, tipping them off when the DEA had tapped their phones and revealing a confidential source. He is next expected to appear in court April 13.
“They know you are here and they want to see who you hang out with,” Reyes warned one former member of Beltran Leyva’s cartel. “Don’t talk at all.”
A 43-page criminal complaint against Reyes was filed in February and unsealed Wednesday. It notes that Reyes, who has attended training seminars at the DEA’s academy in Quantico, Va., has been “provided with highly sensitive information” and “oversaw operations which resulted in the arrest of numerous high-level members and associates of various organized criminal enterprises in Mexico,” including members of the deadly Sinaloa Cartel who have been charged in Chicago.
Beltran Leyva was killed in a standoff with Mexican authorities in Cuernavaca late in 2009 after being indicted by a grand jury here. The informant Reyes helped to unmask at the 2009 meeting “was instrumental in securing Arturo Beltran Leyva’s indictment” in Chicago, according to the complaint against Reyes.
The DEA relied on information from former members of the Beltran Leyva and Sinaloa cartels to nab Reyes. Authorities first suspected him when information collected by wiretap began to match information shared with Reyes. The leader of another drug cartel, Angel Dominguez Ramirez Jr., also explicitly referred to “Ivan” in a conversation with an associate.
“Who is Ivan?” Dominguez asked.
“The boss,” he was told.
Dominguez and the unnamed associate then plotted to use Reyes’ ties to the Beltran Leyva cartel to keep him loyal.
Reyes was confronted by the DEA at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City last February, according to the complaint. He allegedly denied leaking information to cartels, though he acknowledged he was the sole Mexican point of contact for the leaked information.