A New York City police officer who moonlighted as a bodyguard for the wife of convicted Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was arrested in a drug sting Wednesday after prosecutors say he transported cocaine for an undercover officer posing as a drug dealer.
Ishmael Bailey, 36, cried as he was arraigned Wednesday night. He pleaded not guilty to charges including possession and sale of a controlled substance, receiving bribes and official misconduct.
The Police Department suspended the 12-year officer without pay. A judge ordered him jailed on $25,000 cash bail or $50,000 bond. Bailey faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill said that Bailey had “betrayed his sacred oath” and that the internal affairs investigators who built the case “proved that there is no place for corruption within the NYPD.”
“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,” O’Neill said.
Brian O’Neill, an assistant chief in the internal affairs bureau, said Bailey had a history of disciplinary problems and was already under investigation for another matter before he provided security for Guzman’s wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, at the drug cartel leader’s July sentencing in Brooklyn.
Bailey’s involvement in Guzman’s case did not prompt the sting, which Brian O’Neill described as an “integrity test.” No other people were targeted and no other suspects are being sought, he said.
Bailey’s lawyer, Jeffrey Cohen, said he’s investigating the matter and his client “will continue to plead his innocence.”
According to prosecutors, Bailey first met with an undercover officer who posed as a drug dealer Aug. 27 and agreed to provide security in exchange for cash as cocaine was taken across Queens.
Prosecutors said he met with the officer again Sept. 4, held open a duffel bag as a kilogram of cocaine and two fakes were placed inside and then delivered the bag to another undercover officer — all in exchange for $2,500.
Bailey met with the officer once more Sept. 12, prosecutors said, and was given $10,000 in cash to pick up two kilograms of cocaine. Bailey then met with another undercover officer and gave that person the cash in exchange for one package containing a kilogram of cocaine and one that was a fake, prosecutors said.
Guzman was convicted in February of murder conspiracy charges, drug trafficking, money laundering and firearms possession. He is serving a life sentence at the federal “Supermax” prison in Florence, Colo.
Commissioner O’Neill said investigators believe Bailey only guarded Aispuro one time — at Guzman’s sentencing.
“He was actually a subcontract by the other security guard who was there,” O’Neill said. “He had no direct contact with El Chapo or the wife.”