A judge in Nicaragua announced that the 18 Mexican nationals arrested last month while posing as Televisa journalists and carrying over $9 million, will be put on trial for money laundering and drug trafficking.
Nicaragua’s Attorney General’s Office has accused the 18 Mexicans arrested last month while posing as Televisa journalists of being a “highly organized” criminal group dedicated to transporting “large quantities” of drugs between Mexico and Costa Rica. A Nicaraguan judge ordered that a public oral trial of the accused will commence on December 3.
The group was detained on August 20 at a security checkpoint on the border between Nicaragua and Honduras. Although the group tried to pass themselves off as reporters for Televisa, a Mexican media company, police discovered $9.2 million in cash and traces of cocaine in the caravan’s vehicles.
The Attorney General’s Office reported that the six vans that the group traveled in were fully equipped with television equipment and had Televisa logos, although Televisa has reported having no connection to the group.
The group’s legal team maintains that the only crime the group committed was not declaring the cash to customs and that there is no evidence that the money was obtained through, or destined for illicit purposes.
However, according to a report by Costa Rica news station Channel 6, the fake journalists reportedly made some 190 trips into Costa Rica, although the report did not specify over which period of time. The group apparently entered the country through the San Jose International Airport and via a border crossing with Nicaragua. At least one Costa Rican immigration official is under investigation for allegedly selling false passports to members of the group.
InSight Crime Analysis
While the police have not released the names of all of the detained, authorities have indicated that some of the accused are employees or ex-employees of private security companies in Tamaulipas, while others may be current or former municipal police in Durango.
Nicaraguan authorities have not yet ruled out links between the group and the criminal organization that was involved with the murder of Argentinian folk singer Facundo Cabral in Guatemala in 2011. At the time of their arrest, several members of the group were allegedly linked to Los Charros, a Mexican criminal network with ties to Henry Fariñas, the Nicaraguan businessman who is currently on trial for drug trafficking and money laundering and who survived the attack that killed Cabral.