CHICAGO — Prosecutors are asking a federal judge in Chicago to impose an above-the-guidelines 10-year prison sentence on a former Mexican intelligence-unit commander for divulging secrets to the Beltran Leyva drug cartel for money.
Ivan Reyes Arzate, who worked closely for years with U.S. agents, deserves a far stiffer punishment for the havoc he caused than the sentence of around three years recommended by U.S. sentencing guidelines, prosecutors argue in a late Wednesday filing.
"In the world of international narcotics investigations, one can hardly envision a more serious betrayal," it says about the American-trained Arzate, who was a main point of contact for intelligence sharing between U.S. agencies and Mexican Federal Police.
Arzate's Chicago attorney, Joseph Lopez, asked in a defense filing for a 17-month prison term. Arzate has been jailed in Chicago since early last year, so with time served, that would mean he would go free almost immediately.
U.S. judges have enormous discretion and aren't strictly bound by sentencing guidelines. In May, Arzate pleaded no contest to obstruction of justice charges. Sentencing is set for Aug. 29.
Prosecutors' filings say leaks of intelligence once led the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to suspend nearly all of its operations in Mexico as agents sought to flush out a cartel mole — who they say turned out to be Arzate.
Prosecutors say he drew on his access to U.S. secrets to help unmask someone informing on the cartel. The person was later tortured and killed. Arzate denies telling the cartel about the informant.
The defense filing says Arzate risked his life for years, including to help capture important cartel figures. It notes he lost his high-status police job and would likely have to revert to working as a carpenter when he returns to Mexico.
"Arzate has received just punishment," the filing says.
A former member of the Beltran Leyva cartel, referred to only as "Witness A" in filings, will testify at Arzate's sentencing hearing and describe Arzate's cooperation with the cartel for at least a decade, the government's filing says.