Nicaraguan at Center of Cabral Murder Case Convicted of Drug Trafficking

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Henry Fariñas, the Nicaraguan nightclub owner who was the target of the attack that killed Argentine folk legend Facundo Cabral in July last year, has been convicted of drug trafficking along with 22 others.

A Nicaraguan judge handed down the ruling on 27 September, finding Fariñas and 22 others guilty of drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime, reported Confidencial. Among the guilty was a former electoral council judge, Julio Cesar Osuna, who helped the group move money and create fake IDs. One of the 24 defendants were found not guilty due to a lack of evidence.

Fariñas’ trial, which began in August, has shed light on how the group moved narcotics through Central America to Mexican groups like the Familia Michoacana, handing down brutal punishments to drug mules who were perceived to have wronged them. According to the AFP, police testimony revealed that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had notified Nicaraguan forces that Fariñas was moving cocaine out of the country through Managua airport.

The trial has also brought attention to alleged ties between the Nicaraguan police and traffickers including Fariñas and his former partner Alejandro Jimenez, alias “El Palidejo,” a Costa Rican who ordered the hit that killed Cabral. El Palidejo is currently on trial in Guatemala for the murder.

Sentencing will take place on 12 October, reported Reuters. The prosecution is seeking 40 years, though under Nicaraguan law 30 is the maximum that can be handed down.

InSight Crime Analysis

Given the scope and complexity of this case — with 24 defendants and 84 witnesses originally slated to testify — the judgement has been arrived at with surprising speed. This could be a damage limitation move by the Nicaraguan government. As InSight Crime found in an investigation carried out last year, Fariñas may have had ties to high-ranking police officials in the country who helped him move cocaine. If true, it would be particularly harmful for Nicaragua’s reputation, as it is often held up as a model of effective, clean policing in the region. 

On the other hand, the fact that such a high profile case was processed so quickly is a testament to Nicaragua’s judicial system. Fariñas was only arrested six months ago.

This case is not over yet. With El Palidejo’s trial in Guatemala ongoing, still more accusations against the Nicaraguan authorities could emerge, especially if Fariñas’ claims that Palidejo bribed the police are true.

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