Nicaragua’s National Police have said that the Tarzanes’ origins date back to the mid-1990s, when they formed part of a network that included the Norte del Valle Cartel in Cali, Colombia. The Colombian cartel would ship cocaine to Panama, then the Tarzanas provided the go-fast boats and the crew needed to move the shipments from Costa Rica’s Limon province on the Caribbean coast across Lake Nicaragua. The cocaine shipments would eventually be bought by Mexican groups like the Gulf Cartel.
The Tarzanes would also use other maritime routes to move cocaine for the Norte del Valle Cartel. They have proved capable of distracting Nicaragua’s Naval Forces with methods that include deploying several go-fast boats at the same time, in order to protect the boat that is actually carrying the cocaine shipment.
The Tarzanes are based along the southern Nicaragua border, primarily in San Juan de Nicaragua municipality. They have been known to use Costa Rica as a refuge. They have also been linked to drug trafficking cells in Honduras.
“La Ruta del Narco en la Zona de San Juan,” Confidencial, 11 November 2010.