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'Journalist Cash Smugglers' Trial Opens in Nicaragua

The Televisa caravan used by the cash smugglers The Televisa caravan used by the cash smugglers

A group of Mexicans who are on trial in Nicaragua, accused of posing as Televisa journalists while smuggling millions of dollars in cash, may have in fact made several phone calls to the media company, according to a report from Confidencial.

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Nicaraguan investigative news website Confidencial reviewed a list of contacts and phone calls on a cell phone owned by a woman identified as the leader of the group. The cell phone had been used to call the number of one contact listed as “Televisa offices,” and another contact with the name of Televisa’s vice president, Amador Narcia. Both numbers have been disconnected.

In total the 18 Mexicans had five cell phones which they used to make 30 calls between August 20, when they were detained at the Honduras-Nicaragua border, and August 24. They were taken into custody after authorities found $9.2 million in cash in one of their vans, as well as traces of cocaine.

One cell phone was used to call the Mexican consulate after the alleged smugglers were detained. The consul told Confidencial that the Mexicans had called the consulate’s public number, and described themselves as Televisa journalists who had been detained.

The trial of the Mexicans starts November 9 in Managua. They are charged with money laundering and drug trafficking.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Confidencial report raises questions about whether there was some kind of relationship between the alleged smugglers and the Mexican media company, which has denied all ties to the group. At the very least, the evidence suggests that the smugglers went to great lengths to present themselves as legitimate Televisa employees. A folder previously discovered in the smugglers’ van contained several papers signed in the name of Amador Nacia, who has said that the signatures were faked.

The detainees are accused of making hundreds of trips between Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica since 2010. As Confidencial reported, there are still plenty of unanswered questions about the case which may be addressed during the public trial. It is still unclear just how much money and drugs the crew allegedly managed to smuggle through Nicaragua before they were arrested. Nor is it clear whether they had accomplices in Nicaragua, or whether they were working for an organized criminal group in Mexico.

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