Nicaragua’s National Police have captured eight men — one allegedly with ties to the Mexican drug cartel known as “Los Zetas” — who will face charges of authoring and executing the July 19 attack on a Sandinista caravan, which killed five people and injured 24 others.
Police Chief Aminta Granera called a press conference Thursday afternoon in Managua to present the eight men to the press. The men, handcuffed and dressed identically in gray t-shirts and blue pants, were paraded out by masked police officers. A ninth suspect remains at large, according to police.
Granera was quick to dismiss suspicions that the suspects belonged to a rearmed contra group, despite the apparently political nature of the attack. The police chief hailed the work of state security, and refuted reports that police have been “disappearing” as in the days of the Somoza dictatorship.
Gonzalo Carrion, of Nicaragua’s Permanent Commission on Human Rights (Cenidh), told Nicaragua Dispatch earlier this week that masked security agents have been kicking in doors in Matagalpa and dragging suspects from their beds in the small hours of the morning, without warrants, explanation or any semblance of due process. Carrion said Cenidh considered the nabbed suspects to be “disappeared” — a politically charged term coined during the dark days of past dictatorships in Latin America.
That’s not the case, says Granera.
“Nicaraguan brothers and sisters, the combined efforts by the National Police and the Nicaraguan Army have made it possible for us to fulfill our pledge— we have clarified this in record time, thanks to the work of both institutions in an extremely complicated case, due to the magnitude of a massacre never before seen in our Nicaragua,” Granera said on Thursday.
The detained suspected are identified as: Leonel Antonio Poveda Palacios (48), aka “Nahúm”, José Ricardo Cortez Dávila (61), aka “La Cobra”, Eddy Antonio Gutiérrez Delgadillo (37), aka “El Tigre”, Jairo Alberto Obando Delgadillo, aka “Tatún”, José Olivar Meza Raúdez (47), Wilfredo Balmaceda Castrillo (54), Rosendo Antonio Huerta González (43) and Zacarías Cano Angulo (41), aka “El Zanate”. The suspect who remains at large is identified as Pablo Manuel Martínez Ruiz (55), aka “Yalí,” who police identified as the principal shooter.
The police have not mentioned any possible motive for the massacre, raising doubts about who the suspects really are and what their intended goal was.
Earlier this month, police captured three Sandinista men and accused of participating in the massacre by throwing rocks at the buses and forcing the driver to slow down, providing the other men with an opportunity to open fire.