Drug Suspect’s Arrest Raises Questions About Nicaragua Judicial Corruption

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Authorities in Costa Rica arrested an alleged leader of an international drug trafficking organization while he was dining with the son of a Nicaraguan Supreme Court magistrate, raising longstanding questions about criminal influence in judicial institutions in Nicaragua.

On September 5, Interpol agents and members of Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Agency (Organismo de Investigación Judicial – OIJ) arrested suspected Nicaraguan drug trafficker Mario Juan Pereira Ramos at a restaurant in the capital San José, Interpol’s Deputy Director Luis Diego Morera announced during a press conference.

David Salomón Rosales — the son of Nicaragua Supreme Court Magistrate Francisco “Chicón” Rosales — was also initially arrested. He was released a short time later after authorities determined he did not have any pending arrest warrants and was not carrying any weapons, according to Morera. Rosales is said to be an ally of Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Criminal Migration

Authorities had been investigating and gathering intelligence on Pereira Ramos for the last two months, and Interpol’s Morera said that Pereira Ramos is wanted in the United States for his alleged role as an “important leader of a criminal organization” involved in international drug trafficking. 

The suspected drug trafficker allegedly spent time in both Nicaragua and Costa Rica, he added. Pereira Ramos was renting a house just north of the capital in Heredia in addition to renting another house in Limón along the country’s Caribbean coast, according to Morera.

Authorities in the United States have not formally requested Pereira Ramos’ extradition, but Morera said that Costa Rican authorities will cooperate with US authorities when they do.

InSight Crime Analysis

The optics are not good: the son of a Supreme Court magistrate in Nicaragua was enjoying lunch with someone wanted in the United States for drug trafficking. And it’s not the first time questions have been raised about drug traffickers’ connections to judges in Nicaragua.

As far back as 2010, former Nicaraguan Interior Minister Ana Isabel Morales denounced that there were multiple judges and magistrates that had granted releases or sentence reductions to as many as 1,000 drug traffickers, including members of Mexico’s notorious Sinaloa Cartel. 

SEE ALSO: Nicaragua News and Profiles

There is little official information on Salomón Rosales. But a video currently circulating on the messaging application WhatsApp appears to show him boasting about how he is “untouchable” in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

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