US narcotics agent admits role in drug trafficking scheme

National

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal narcotics agent scheduled to stand trial this month has pleaded guilty to participating in a decadelong drug conspiracy that involved the smuggling of thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Puerto Rico to New York.

Prosecutors said Fernando Gomez, a former U.S. Marine, infiltrated the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2011 and remained a federal agent until his arrest last year, even as he assisted a drug trafficking ring known for slaughtering its rivals.

Gomez, 42, faces up to 20 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 21 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. His guilty plea happened last month but had not previously been reported.

A message was left with his defense attorney seeking comment.

A newly released transcript shows Gomez, in pleading guilty, admitted selling firearms to a high-volume cocaine trafficker drug dealer, Jose Martinez-Diaz, while Gomez was working as a police officer outside Chicago.

Martinez-Diaz, a member of La Organizacion de Narcotraficantes Unidos, pleaded guilty this summer to distributing more than 5,000 kilograms of cocaine, drugs he smuggled from the Dominican Republic by boat.

Prosecutors said Martinez-Diaz encouraged Gomez to apply to the DEA in 2010 to further his drug trafficking. Gomez became an agent the following year after lying during his employment screening about whether he had ties to criminals, authorities said.

As an agent assigned to the DEA’s Chicago field division, Gomez helped Martinez-Diaz avoid detection from law enforcement and also improperly accessed DEA records about a cooperator he believed to have information about his co-conspirators, prosecutors said.

Gomez told U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman he once picked up money for the drug ring that he should have known “came from illegal means.”

“DEA Special Agent Fernando Gomez violated the very laws he swore to enforce,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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