DEA Agent Leaked Details to Defense Lawyers in Drug Cases for Bribes, Sent to Federal Prison in Miami

Miami, FL: A federal judge gave a longtime Drug Enforcement Administration agent a four-year prison sentence for giving defense lawyers DEA information as part of a $100,000 bribery plan that put drug cases and the lives of confidential sources at risk, according to the prosecutors.

Last year, John Costanzo Jr. was found guilty of bribery and wire theft. He is now one of many DEA agents who have been found guilty of federal crimes. This case will also see the sentencing of Manny Recio, a former DEA boss, next month.

The prosecutors asked the judge to give Costanzo at least seven years in prison because they said he abused the skills he had learned as a drug detective who was also very familiar with money laundering. He was a supervisor in Miami and then at the DEA offices outside of Washington, D.C.

In court papers, authorities said, “Costanzo did what he did out of pure greed.” “He used his connections, network, and skills to get around the law and make money by leaking police secrets, which went against everything he said he stood for.”

A lot of the case was based on text messages and monitored phone calls between Costanzo and Recio. The two stayed close after Recio retired from the DEA in 2018 and started working as a private detective for Miami defense lawyers.

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Prosecutors say that lawyers David Macey and Luis Guerra paid for the bribery plan and then used the leaked information to get new clients who were facing federal drug charges. The police have not charged Macey and Guerra yet, but in January, they asked the court to let them read private messages between Recio and the lawyers as part of what they called an “ongoing” probe.

For a year, Recio kept asking Costanzo to look up names in a secret DEA database so that he could stay up to date on government investigations that his new employers would be interested in. They also talked about when high-profile arrests would happen and exactly when in 2019 authorities planned to bring charges against businessman Alex Saab, who is a top criminal target in Venezuela and is thought to be Nicolas Maduro’s bodyguard.

Authorities say that in return, Recio gave Costanzo bribes in secret, such as plane tickets and a $50,000 down payment on a condo in the Coral Gables suburbs.

He was sentenced on Wednesday as per AP News.

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