Nicaragua’s ‘narco-magistrate’ stole identities from dead, drunks, mentally ill

Former Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) magistrate Julio César Osuna got thrown under the bus last weekend by his secretary Carolina González, who testified that her former boss stole the identities of dead people, street drunks and the mentally ill to make fake Nicaraguan IDs (cédulas) for international drug traffickers, including Costa Rican kingpin Alejandro “El Palidejo” Jimenez.

González, who testified last Saturday in the ongoing trial of 24 accused drug traffickers led by Nicaraguan strip club owner Henry Fariñas, used the Nuremberg Defense to argue that she was only following Osuna’s orders.

Osuna, who was stripped of his legal immunity as magistrate to face trial, is being fingered as one of the leaders of a drug gang that allegedly laundered some $28.8 million through Nicaragua. In addition to trafficking cédulas, Osuna is also accused of using his diplomatic passport to travel to Costa Rica to pay narcos for drug shipments to Guatemala, according to trial evidence.

Osuna’s former secretary said her boss was regularly visited in his office by Mexicans, Costa Ricans, Guatemalans and Colombians would pop by the CSE to pick up fake Nicaraguan identification cards. Kingpin “El Palidejo,” who is under arrest in Guatemala for the July 2011 murder of Argentine singer/songwriter Facundo Cabral, was also a frequent visitor to Osuna’s CSE office, the former secretary says. She knew him as “Jose.”

“The visits were constant, sometimes three times a month—sometimes they would go off together and sometimes they would go into the office,” González said in her testimony, according to state media.

González said Osuna was also fabricating Nicaraguan birth certificates. The magistrate and his assistant would reportedly peruse the daily papers in search of new identities to swipe.

“It always seemed strange to me that they looked in the newspapers for people who had died, for people with mental illnesses or for people who drank themselves to death in the street. Then they would look in the database to see if those people had cédulas or not,” González said.

The secretary also told the court how Osuna’s economic condition and lifestyle changed dramatically after 2007. The magistrate boasted that he had paid off all his debts and started to build a new luxury home for himself on Kilometer 18 of the Carretera Masaya. He started to arrive at work in one of several new vehicles.

How Osuna was able to get away with his blatantly illicit activity for more than five years is unclear. It is unknown how many fake Nicaraguan IDs Osuna trafficked since 2007, or why no one’s suspicions were aroused by the magistrate’s sudden opulence and frequent international callers.

The Sandinista government is distancing itself from the scandal by stressing that Osuna was a member of the Liberal Constitutional Party (PLC) and suggesting that his corruption had more to do with his partisan affiliation than his institutional affiliation with the CSE.

  • Mela Pellas

    My family used to think that the worst thing that ever happened to Nicaragua were the Liberales (Walker, Sandino, Somoza, Aleman) and the came the Sandinistas…they made the liberales look like boy scouts. Best thing that could ever happen is a total war between the two, so that decent nicas could live in peace and develop like the ticos.