Ex-agent faces conspiracy, bribery charges

A federal grand jury in Little Rock has indicted a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent, who was a supervisor in the agency’s Little Rock field office, on charges of participating in a drug-trafficking conspiracy and accepting a bribe in return for providing sensitive information to aid a drug-trafficking organization.

Nathan Charles Wood Koen, 43, was released from custody Monday to family members in Illinois on conditions that include home detention with electronic monitoring.

He had been jailed since his arrest Dec. 4 on a criminal complaint related to the same activity.

The indictment, handed up Thursday, charges him with conspiring between September 2016 and November 2018 to distribute a kilogram or more of heroin, at least 5 kilograms of cocaine and 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.

It also charges him with accepting a cash payment Dec. 3 from a Mexican drug supplier to provide sensitive law-enforcement information to the supplier to facilitate his drug-trafficking organization.

Koen was arrested Dec. 4 when he arrived at the Little Rock airport on a flight from Las Vegas, where FBI agents said they watched him accept a $9,000 cash bribe from the large-scale drug trafficker, who was working as an informant for the FBI.

The agents said the drug trafficker, Francisco Benitez, told agents who were investigating him for distributing illegal drugs in California, Arkansas and Florida that Koen, who was previously based in Florida, was helping him in exchange for bribe money.

Koen’s attorney, Blake Hendrix of Little Rock, conceded during a detention hearing Monday that federal prosecutors have a strong bribery case against Koen, but he said the conspiracy charge was weak because even if Koen accepted money from Benitez, there is no proof he actually provided him with inside information.

Prosecutors replied that their evidence is strong on both counts.

Koen’s case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Brian Miller, but no trial date has been set.

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