Amauri Carmona Morelos, who also goes by the name Alberto Ruiz Cano and Amauri Paudd, is an alleged drug trafficker operating along Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast. Carmona reportedly had links to the remnants of the Cali Cartel, a defunct Colombian drug trafficking organization that later morphed into the Norte del Valle Cartel (NDVC). He was captured in February 2017, and is being held in Nicaragua’s El Chipote prison.
Originally from San Andres, Colombia, Carmona established a fake identity as Alberto Ruiz Cano in Nicaragua. He is believed to be a second-generation drug trafficker: his father was reportedly a member of the Cali Cartel.
Amauri Carmona Morelos Factbox
Criminal Activities: Drug trafficking, money laundering
Area of Operation: North Atlantic Autonomous Region (Nicaragua)
Carmona reportedly once owned a nightclub in Managua that was used as a meeting point to negotiate the purchase and movement of drug shipments. The nightclub, “Mr. Sponge,” was also used to launder his criminal proceeds.
Carmona allegedly participated in a drug trafficking organization that smuggled drugs through small indigenous villages along the Caribbean coast.
His base of operations is Walpasiksa in Nicaragua’s jungle-covered North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN), a rural area home to many of Nicaragua’s home-grown criminal networks. He is also thought to move frequently between San Andres and Honduras.
Allies and Enemies
Carmona was cited in a leaked US State Department cable as having some involvement in a violent confrontation between the Walpasiksa indigenous community and Nicaragua security forces on December 8, 2009. Civilians ambushed the anti-drug unit, which arrived to the area in search of a downed narco-plane, killing three Naval officers and wounding another four security personnel. There have been some reports that Morelos may have ordered the civilians to carry out the attack, in order to protect the area as a base of operations for drug traffickers.
Carmona’s father, identified as Fernando Melendez, was arrested a few days before this ambush on December 5, near where the drug flight had crashed. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison for drug trafficking and money laundering, but died in prison on March 17, 2012.
Carmona was captured on February 7, 2017 under circumstances that remain mysterious. It is not clear where he was captured, but local media reports suggest he was arrested in Honduras and later handed over to Nicaraguan authorities. He is currently detained in the maximum security penitentiary of El Chipote, waiting for his trial to begin.