A New York police officer who worked an off-duty job as a bodyguard for the wife of drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán faces felony drug charges after he was accused of accepting cash in exchange for police protection in a cocaine operation.
Ishmael Bailey, 36, was arrested Wednesday and arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on five counts, including criminal sale and possession of a controlled substance, receiving bribes and official misconduct. The 12-year veteran of the force was suspended without pay after his arrest. If convicted, he would face up to 15 years in prison.
Prosecutors at Bailey's arraignment mentioned his work for the Sinaloa Cartel boss's wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, earlier this year, escorting her to and from the Brooklyn federal courthouse in July, when her husband was sentenced for running the world's largest narcotics trafficking group.
Bailey's attorney, Jeffrey Cohen, said his client's side jobs are "irrelevant."
"He's not being brought up on charges for that," Cohen told The Washington Post. "What's happening now is, he's pled not guilty, and I'm investigating the matter."
Bailey's prosecution involves conduct that postdates Guzman's trial and does not involve the Sinaloa Cartel, according to the district attorney's office.
According to the criminal complaint, Bailey met with an undercover officer last month, who he believed was a drug dealer. On two occasions, he agreed to provide security as packages of cocaine were transported from location to location; he was allegedly paid in cash per kilogram moved.
Bailey earned $2,500 on Sept. 4 for driving a duffel bag filled with drugs to a parking lot in Queens, prosecutors said. The following week, Bailey again acted as a security guard for the undercover officer, according to the complaint, and he was paid $10,000 to pick up two kilograms of cocaine.
The acting district attorney of Queens County, John Ryan, said Bailey "took an oath to enforce the law. Today, sadly, he is accused of taking part in an illicit drug operation."
New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill also condemned Bailey's alleged acts.
"There is no place for corruption within the NYPD," O'Neill said at a news conference after the arrest. "When an individual officer intentionally tarnishes the shield worn proudly by thousands before him, he will be held to the highest account the law provides."
Bailey is next scheduled to appear in court Oct. 3.
This article was written by Deanna Paul, a reporter for The Washington Post.