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.

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.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
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...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Former Guatemalan Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla -- a decorated war hero and a longtime US ally -- finds himself treading water amidst a flurry of accusations about corruption and his connections to drug traffickers. López Bonilla is not the most well-known suspect in the cases against...

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...

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...

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...