Nicaragua Police Tout Security Advances Under Ortega

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Police in Nicaragua have arrested over 21,000 people and seized 42 tons of cocaine since 2006, according to police statistics.

El Nuevo Diario published a graphic (see below) illustrating the accomplishments of the Nicaraguan police force during the past five years, just before President Daniel Ortega assumed office in 2007. The data includes the amount of drugs, weapons, property and vehicles that police reportedly seized during this time.

Since 2006, the police have recruited over 3,000 officers, and now numbers 11,613 officials. The force has built 42 new police stations and doubled the number of vehicles in use, according to the report.

The U.S. State Department has praised the Nicaraguan Navy as one of the U.S.’s most effective partners in the region. The police force, however, are not seen as nearly effective. In 2010, the government’s decision to disband a U.S.-trained anti-corruption police unit was met with disapproval from the U.S. The Ortega administration argued that the unit was too expensive to maintain, but the decision did little to improve the image of the Nicaraguan police as a poorly paid, corrupt and ineffectual force.

In 2010, Nicaraguan security forces — including the police, navy and military — seized 17.5 metric tons of cocaine and over $8.4 million worth in criminal assets, according to U.S. State Department statistics.

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