Intelligence Specialist at Southern Command Charged with Accepting Bribes and Helping Steal Purported Drug Proceeds
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 03, 2014|
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, announce the filing of a criminal complaint charging defendant Jose Emmanuel Torres, 37, of Cooper City, with federal bribery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §201(b)(2)(A) and (B); exceeding authorized access to a government computer, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1030(a)(2)(B) and (c)(2)(B)(i) and (ii) and 18 U.S.C. §2; and, extortion under color of official right, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1951.
Torres, who was arrested on Friday, made his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hunt in Fort Lauderdale.
According to the criminal complaint, Torres is currently assigned as an Intelligence Specialist to the United States Marine Corps Forces, South, under the United States Southern Command. From approximately January 2012 through December 13, 2013, Torres was assigned to the Department of Defense, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). As part of his official duties with the DIA, Torres worked with agents from Department of Homeland Security-Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) collecting intelligence regarding persons who were allegedly involved in terrorism and drug trafficking. During the course of his duties with DIA, Torres had interviewed an individual who was attempting to gain legal residence status in the United States and had provided Torres and other agents of the United States with information regarding persons involved in drug trafficking and terrorism. The individual had been periodically arrested on immigration violations. In August 2013, Torres told the individual that he had used his influence to have the individual arrested on immigration charges. In or about September 2013, Torres complained to the individual that he was having financial problems and that he was not making enough money as a United States Marine. Torres asked the individual for $10,000. The individual understood that, if he did not give Torres the money, Torres could use his influence to have the individual arrested again. The individual then reported this matter to law enforcement and the FBI began recording text messages, telephone, and Skype calls between Torres and the cooperating individual (the CI). Torres continued to ask for the $10,000 and promised that the CI would not go back to jail even if he [Torres] had to put his “neck on the line.” In November 2013, the CI, under the supervision of law enforcement agents, paid Torres $6,000 in order for Torres to use his influence to assist the CI with the CI’s immigration proceedings.
During the course of the relationship between Torres and the CI, Torres asked the CI if he had drug trafficking contacts in Costa Rica and Miami because he [Torres] was looking to conduct a robbery of a delivery of drug money or identify a stash house where drug money was stored. Initially, Torres told the CI that he [Torres] was willing to participate in the robbery and that he [Torres] has some trustworthy individuals to assist him with the robbery. Between November 2013 and January 2014, Torres communicated with the CI regarding the robbery by way of text, telephone, Skype, and a “secret” e-mail account used by Torres. Communications included Torres sending information that Torres had obtained from law enforcement databases regarding two individuals that the CI indicated would assist the CI in the robbery. Ultimately, under the direction of law enforcement agents, the CI told Torres that the CI had the opportunity to steal drug proceeds totaling $500,000 that was being transported in a car. The CI told Torres that the CI needed a law enforcement receipt so that the CI could represent to the owners of the purported drug money that the funds had been seized by law enforcement. On January 29, 2014, Torres provided the CI a detailed four-page DEA seizure form dated January 31, 2014, reflecting a bulk cash seizure by DEA agents in the amount of $500,000. The CI told Torres that he [Torres] would receive $250,000 from the money stolen from the drug dealers for providing the receipt. On January 31, 2014, the CI called Torres to tell him that the CI was in possession of the drug proceeds, and they arranged a meeting for the purpose of providing Torres with his $250,000. On that same date, the CI and Torres met in a parking lot in Dania, Florida, and Torres was given a duffel bag that purportedly contained $250,000 of drug proceeds. Torres was arrested after taking possession of the duffel bag.
If convicted, Torres faces a statutory maximum term of 40 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or three times the money received.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. Mr. Ferrer would also like to thank the Drug Enforcement Administration and the United States Secret Service for their assistance. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey N. Kaplan.
A complaint is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.