war on drugs

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US donates drug-detection equipment

(posted May 21, 9:00 a.m.)- Under the aegis of the U.S.-backed anti-narcotics effort known as the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), the U.S. government on Monday donated eight mobile drug-detection units to Nicaragua’s National Police and Navy. The police received four Hardened Mobile Tracers while the navy received four TruNarcs units. Both sets of equipment, valued at $250,000, are hand-held field units designed to detect chemical traces of illegal narcotics. The U.S. government also provided training on proper use of the equipment to 15 anti-narcotics police officers and 12 naval officers. The drug detection units will allow Nicaraguan security officials to quickly test for drugs in the field and then supply hard evidence in judicial cases against alleged drug traffickers. Continue Reading →

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Russians help Nicaragua patrol Caribbean waters

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A recent high-seas drug bust in Caribbean waters 150 miles off Nicaragua’s northeastern coast demonstrates how Russia is helping the Nicaraguan Navy to patrol its newly acquired maritime territory won from Colombia in last year’s world court ruling. The drug bust, executed by the Nicaraguan Navy with intelligence provided from Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN), captured more than 116 kilograms of cocaine smuggled through Caribbean waters 36 nautical miles northeast of the Colombian island of Quitasueño. The narco intercept, which occurred the night of April 4 as part of “Operation Sovereignty,” is perhaps Nicaragua’s farthest-reaching drug bust to date. It occurred in waters that were awarded to Nicaragua in last November’s ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which Colombia still refuses to recognize.  “Organized crime has been operating in this zone and we are there permanently; this bust demonstrates the long arm of our sovereignty in our waters,” said Army spokesman Colonel Orlando Palacios. Continue Reading →

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US welcomes Russian support for Nicaragua’s drug war

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A top U.S. anti-narcotics official says Russia’s recent involvement in Nicaragua’s drug war is “welcome” by the United States. The U.S. government, which has spearheaded drug war efforts in Central America for more than a decade, is not jealous of Russia’s sudden and curious interest in helping Nicaragua fight drug trafficking in this region, says William Brownfield, U.S. Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. “I welcome any contribution, any donation and any support that the Russian government wants to give in this hemisphere, exactly as I expect the Russian government to welcome our anti-drug programs in  Asia—based in Afghanistan or in the republics of Central Asia,” Brownfield told The Nicaragua Dispatch during a webcast press conference last week from Washington, D.C.

“The truth is that we want collaboration, and if the collaboration comes from Russia in our hemisphere or if it’s the United States in Russia’s hemisphere, then I think that is positive,” Brownfield added. Russian drug czar Victor Ivanov was in Nicaragua last month to participate in a regional anti-drug summit of police chiefs from Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico. During the meeting, Ivanov and Nicaraguan Police Chief Aminta Granera explained how Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN) is collaborating with Nicaraguan police to combat drug trafficking in Central America. Continue Reading →

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US: 80 percent of cocaine trafficked through CA

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(posted March 5, 3:15 p.m.)- Despite Nicaragua’s efforts to build a firewall against drug trafficking and narco violence, the United States estimates that more than 80% of the primary flow of the cocaine trafficked to the United States last year passed through the Central American corridor, according to the U.S. State Department’s 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report. “Nicaragua faces limited law enforcement capabilities and sparsely populated regions that are difficult to police. These factors provide an opportune environment for Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) to transit drugs, weapons, and currency, as well as to establish clandestine labs and warehouse facilities,” reads the Nicaragua chapter of the US drug report, which was released today in Washington. “The unemployment rate on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua is over 55 percent, creating a favorable climate for drug traffickers to receive logistical support from isolated communities with few sources of legitimate income. Judicial corruption and political interference remain impediments to meaningful prosecution of narcotics trafficking.”

The report says Nicaragua remains “primarily a transshipment point for illegal drugs,” but warns that the country is “also at risk for increased domestic drug consumption.”

“Nicaragua remained at risk of increased drug consumption, particularly on the Atlantic coast where transshipment increased. Continue Reading →

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Drug trial starts for Televisa imposters

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(posted Dec. 10, 4:30 p.m.)- The drug trial of the 18 phony journalists arrested while posing as Televisa reporters started today in Managua under heavy security and the expectation of a verdict by the end of the week. The fake journalists were caught entering Nicaragua on Aug. 20 aboard six vans painted with the Mexican TV channel’s media logo and expensive satellite broadcasting equipment. They were also smuggling $9.2 million in cash, allegedly to make payment for a drug shipment. Continue Reading →

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Strip club narco gets 30 years in prison

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The biggest drug trial in Nicaragua’s history ended yesterday with stiff jail sentences handed down for all 23 members of the narco gang. Gang leader Henry Fariñas, owner of the Elite strip club in Managua and a former Central American concert organizer, was sentenced to 30 years and fined $1 million for his role in laundering money and trafficking drugs. The ex-manager of Elite, Hugo Jaén Figueroa, was sentenced to 29 years in jail. The strip club, which was allegedly used to launder drug money, has since been closed. Fariñas’ total sentence was 17 years for international drug trafficking, 9 years for organized crime and 7 years for money laundering. Continue Reading →

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Russia to provide Nicaragua with weapons for drug war

Drugs confiscated during a bust in Managua last year (Graphos Producciones)

(posted Oct. 1, 10:20 a.m.)- The Russian government is prepared to supply Nicaragua with equipment and weapons aid the war on drugs, according to Viktor Ivanov, head of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service, as quoted by Russian media. Ivanov reportedly made the announcement today in Moscow following a meeting with Nicaraguan Police Chief Aminta Granera, who has been in Russia since last week. Russian media outlet RT quoted Granera as saying that Nicaragua was grateful for Russia’s offer of “specialized equipment, which will strengthen the ability of Nicaraguan police to deter crime.”

During the first meeting between Ivanov and Granera held last February in Managua, the Russian drug tsar promised a new Russian-funded anti-narcotics training center in Nicaragua. That pledge of support has not been mentioned since. Continue Reading →

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Accused ‘narco journalists’ go on trial Dec. 3

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(posted Sept. 18, 1:20 p.m.)- Nicaragua’s criminal trial of the 18 alleged “narco journalists” from Mexico will begin on Dec. 3, according to judge Julio César Arias, who presided over the pretrial hearing this morning in Managua. All 18 Mexicans, who were arrested Aug. 19 as they entered Nicaragua aboard six vans painted as Televisa media vehicles, will be charged with international drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime. Continue Reading →

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Nicaragua Dispatch photo leads to new revelation in case of phony Mexican journalists

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(posted Sept. 14, 12:30 p.m.)- A photograph published in The Nicaragua Dispatch Aug. 28 has apparently led to new revelations in case of the 18 phony Mexican journalists busted in Nicaragua last month with $9.2 million in alleged drug money hidden in six vans painted with Televisa’s logo. The photo, taken by GRAPHOS Produccions for The Nicaragua Dispatch, shows one of the confiscated van’s Mexico City license plates reading “571-XXD.” Mexican media network Aristegui Noticias ran the plate number in Mexico City and found that the van is indeed registered in the name of Televisa, and the vehicle has not been reported missing or stolen. “A photograph published by the daily The Nicaragua Dispatch on August 28 shows the front license plate of the vehicle in the presentation the police did with detained suspects…which matches with the registry (of motor vehicles) in Mexico City,” Aristegui Noticias reports. Continue Reading →

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

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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. Continue Reading →

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