A former federal police commander who had collaborated closely with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other United States authorities was sentenced to 10 years in prison in a U.S. federal court on Wednesday for trafficking cocaine.
Iván Reyes Arzate, known as La Reina (the Queen), pleaded guilty to drug trafficking conspiracy in October. He will only serve a further eight years behind bars, having already spent two years in prison awaiting trial.
Reyes described himself to the judge as “a man who does not run away from his responsibilities.” The judge expressed surprise that the prosecutors didn’t demand a longer sentence.
However, prosecutors assured the judge that Reyes wasn’t a collaborating witness. Reyes worked in the same period as ex-security minister Genaro García Luna, who is accused of taking multimillion-dollar bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel. García is in the U.S. awaiting trial, which is expected to begin in October.
Reyes’ lawyer, Mark DeMarco, argued that five years would be an appropriate sentence given the length of previous punishments handed down to corrupt public servants.
As the former commander of the police force’s sensitive investigative unit (SIU), Reyes collaborated with a criminal group called El Seguimiento 39, which trafficked cocaine and marijuana to the United States on behalf of the Sinaloa Cartel, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas.
In October, Reyes admitted that he gave information to traffickers in 2016 in exchange for bribes. As the SIU commander, he learned that the U.S. investigators were tracking El Seguimiento 39 and accepted a US $290,000 bribe from criminals for information.
United States Attorney Breon Peace said in October that Reyes, who turned himself into U.S. authorities in 2017, and was convicted and jailed on a separate conspiracy charge in 2018, “forged a deplorable alliance with drug traffickers and betrayed not only the people of Mexico he was sworn to protect but also his law enforcement partners who put themselves at risk to disrupt the [El Seguimiento 39] cartel.”
Ray Donovan, the DEA special agent in charge of the criminal investigation, said in October that Reyes offered criminals a perfect environment. “Reyes Arzate turned a blind eye toward drug traffickers, enabling criminal enterprises to operate with impunity, while serving as a commander in the Mexican Federal Police … DEA and our law enforcement partners worked tirelessly to isolate and identify this bad seed and bring him to justice,” he said.