Adolfo Zepeda speaks to reporters

A top Nicaragua security official says a strategy known as the "wall of containment" has kept drug traffickers out, who instead flock to neighboring Honduras, a claim that seems questionable given the high levels of violence and reports of organized crime activity along the country's Atlantic coast.

Adolfo Zepeda, the inspector general for the Nicaraguan army, said that while drug flights used to land in the country, constant surveillance operations have since deterred drug traffickers from entering Nicaragua's air space, reported EFE.

Zepeda attributed this to "the efficiency of the strategy we have defined as the wall of containment," a security ring intended to stop organized crime from infiltrating the country. He said the fact only 337 kilos of cocaine were seized in 2013 -- half that captured in 2012 -- showed less drugs were being trafficked through Nicaragua, reported the AFP.

Zepeda said criminal groups had responded by concentrating clandestine landing strips in parts of the Caribbean coastal zone of Honduras.

"Sadly, we have to admit that the territory of our brother country Honduras has fallen victim to the landing of drug flights," he said.

InSight Crime Analysis

Nicaragua, despite being one of the poorest countries in Central America, boasts one of the region's lowest homicide rates, falling from 11 per 100,000 in 2012 to 9 per 100,000 in 2013. Officials there have long upheld their security model as one that has helped prevent the country from seeing the same levels of violent organized crime as found in the Northern Triangle of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

However, Nicaragua is not an oasis. Honduran officials recently claimed drug traffickers land flights on Nicaragua's Mosquito Coast and then make short flights into Honduras to avoid detection by recently installed radar. This same trafficking pattern was reported a year ago.

SEE ALSO: Nicaragua News and Profiles

Nicaragua's two Atlantic autonomous regions (the RAAN and RAAS), which are home to the Mosquito Coast, have also been exceptions to the rule in regard to violent crime, with murder rates far above the national average attributed to the presence of organized crime. Locals and authorities have noted the presence of Honduran drug traffickers and assassins in recent years.

The remoteness of the Mosquito Coast both makes it appealing to drug traffickers and extremely difficult for the Nicaraguan government to control, suggesting it is an exception to the success authorities are keen to promote.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

In the photograph, they are both smiling. In the foreground, on the left hand side, a man in a short-sleeved buttoned white shirt, jeans and a metal watch, holds a bottle of water in his right hand. He laughs heartily. He is Herbert Saca. On the right...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...