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Ex-Mexican officer pleads no contest to leaking info to cartel

Cocaine seized in a drug raid

Cocaine seized in a drug raid.| File photo

An ex-commander of a Mexican intelligence unit who worked with U.S. agents has changed his plea to no contest in a Chicago case alleging he traded secrets to Mexico’s Beltran Leyva cartel.

Ivan Reyes Arzate’s plea in Chicago federal court Friday means his June 11 trial is off. The 46-year-old faces a maximum 25-year prison term at his sentencing Aug. 29.

His lawyer, Joe Lopez, says the no-contest plea to obstruction and conspiracy to obstruct justice is acknowledgement prosecutors would win at trial but doesn’t concede all their facts are right. One dispute is prosecutors’ claim Arzate unmasked an informant.

That DEA informant would later be kidnapped, tortured and killed.

Lopez portrays the case as a clash of law-enforcement cultures. He says Mexican investigators often meet investigative targets and Arzate “doesn’t think he did anything wrong under the Mexican model.”

RELATED: Top Mexican cop leaked info; informant tortured, slain, feds say