Miami – US investigators made the unusual decision to wire up the phone conversations of a retired supervisor from the DEA’s Miami office by investigating possible leaks of confidential information to attorneys for suspected drug traffickers in Colombia, current and retired agents told The Associated Press. .
The investigation, amid a string of scandals at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, has shaken tight and highly competitive circles of drug advocates due to former Supervisor Manny Recio’s strong ties to federal agencies and private sector attorneys.
The FBI tapped Recio’s phones for at least three months last year when he was working as a private investigator for defense attorneys, an extraordinary step that requires authorization from a federal judge and the highest levels of the Justice Department. Agents also seized and investigated Recio’s cell phone.RELATED
Federal prosecutors in New York declined to comment, and an active-duty police officer familiar with the investigation said the focus is the flow of information between the DEA and attorneys in Miami representing alleged Colombian drug traffickers and money launderers. One of those attorneys is Luis Guerra, who hired Recio as an investigator shortly after his retirement from the DEA in 2018.
The agents, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it was an open case, said the investigation focuses on Recio’s interaction with attorneys and DEA agents with whom he worked, particularly Agent John Costanzo, who also the phone was seized.
According to Phil Reizenstein, a Miami attorney representing Recio, the federal prosecutor’s office in Manhattan told him late last year that he was not the subject of a criminal investigation and an investigative jury had not been called to investigate him.
“I have reviewed Manny’s work in several cases, he always seemed impeccable to me, and I have no doubt that he never did anything that even came close to illegality,” Reizenstein said. “He dedicated his career to the DEA. He has submitted to the highest standards and the same law-abiding ideals in his private work.”
Guerra and Costanzo declined to comment.
The wiretapping under the provision called Title III requires the authorization of a federal judge every 30 days. It is considered a highly invasive method and requires proof that a federal crime has been or is about to be committed.