Informants trafficked drugs while on payroll
Informants with dirty pasts are a fixture at drug trials, but even by those standards, the father-son team that played a central role in the cocaine trafficking prosecution of the nephews of Venezuela’s first lady stands out.
Over several years, the U.S. government and other law enforcement agencies paid about $1 million to Jose Santos-Pena, 55, and hundreds of thousands of dollars more to his son, Jose Santos-Hernandez, 34, for information about drug dealers.
The pair traveled to multiple countries, including some where Drug Enforcement Administration agents aren’t welcome, to make secret recordings. Then, in April, prosecutors learned that while working for the DEA, Santos-Pena and Santos-Hernandez were also hard at work smuggling drugs themselves. In late summer, just as the case against Flores’ nephews was getting ready to go to trial in New York, Santos-Pena and Santos-Hernandez pleaded guilty.