Former Informer For U.S. Government, Roc Nation CEO Desiree Perez Pardoned By Trump

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Written by Ann Brown
Desiree Perez
Former Government Informer, Roc Nation CEO Desiree Perez Pardoned By Trump. (AP Photo/Jane Kalinowsky, File)

Among the flurry of 140 pardons and commutations issued by former President Trump on his last day in office was Roc Nation CEO Desiree Perez, a former government informer whose ties to Jay-Z are raising questions.

According to The New York Daily News in March 2015, after Perez was arrested in 1994 for possession of 35 kilos of cocaine, she struck a deal with the feds, agreeing to wear hidden wires to record her meetings with major cocaine traffickers. Turned government informer, she helped the Drug Enforcement Administration break up major drug deals in Puerto Rico and Colombia.

The New York Daily News also reported in May 2014 that, according to federal court transcripts it had obtained, Perez wore wires to meet with major cocaine traffickers.

Perez was the wife of longtime Jay-Z wingman Juan Perez, who is now the head of Roc Nation Sports.

In 1994, the Perez family was rounded up in a major drug investigation in South Florida. That year, 19 people including Desiree Perez were indicted in a federal drug investigation.

The Sun-Sentinel reported in 1994 that the sting was the result of a four-year undercover investigation that, prosecutors said, shut down a major South Florida drug-smuggling family living in Miramar. 

According to the indictment, the family, led by Miami seafood distributor Luis Miguel Perez, smuggled cocaine into South Florida for 10 years to the tune of 35-to-50 tons.

According to a White House statement, Perez was granted a full pardon for her involvement in a conspiracy to distribute narcotics. The conviction was more than 25 years old, Billboard reported.

“Since her conviction, Ms. Perez has taken full accountability for her actions and has turned her life around,” the White House said in a statement. “She has been gainfully employed and has been an advocate for criminal justice reform in her community.”

In a statement provided to Billboard, Perez said, “I’m grateful to have received a pardon and to have formally closed that chapter of my life in the eyes of the law. I have taken full accountability for my mistakes from 25 years ago, but I also take tremendous pride in my personal growth, perseverance, and accomplishments since then.

“This pardon reinforces my lifelong commitment to advocate for criminal justice reform and social justice initiatives,” Perez said.

News of Perez’s pardon raised questions on social media. Legendary hip-hop DJ and radio host Funkmaster tweeted that he wants answers and promised to discuss it on his show, SOHH reported. “Congrats to JayZ and Roc Nation Ceo on the Donald Trump Pardon! …I NEED TO GET MY FACTS IN ORDER BEFORE I DISCUSS! I NEVER NEW THIS UNTIL TODAY???? HOW DOES EVERYONE FEEL ABOUT THIS?”

Back in 2015, former Jay-Z Roc-A-Fella partner Damon Dash said that he was wary of Perez after learning that she had become a government informant after her arrest. Dash said he hesitated to do future business with Jay-Z due to the connection with Desiree and Juan Perez.

In a March 4, 2015, interview on Sway Calloway’s SiriusXM radio show, Dash said that he needed to have a “one-on-one” with Jay-Z about Desiree Perez being an informant. Dash said the feds had been targeting him “for years” and had arrested some of his colleagues, including Kareem “Biggs” Burke, who founded Roc-A-Fella with Dash and Jay Z in 1995. Biggs was sentenced in 2012 to five years in prison for conspiring to distribute more than 100 kilos of marijuana.

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Desiree Perez worked her way up in the entertainment world from a part-time nightclub manager to record company executive. In 2008, when Jay-Z launched Roc Nation as a joint venture with Live Nation, he hired her as chief operating officer of the company, Billboard reported. In 2019, she was promoted to CEO of the company.

Desiree Perez has been working with Meek Mill for criminal justice reform on the Reform Alliance initiative.