A group of suspected cash smugglers posing as journalists who were arrested last week reportedly traveled from Honduras to Nicaragua on several occasions since 2010, prompting an investigation into why Honduran and Nicaraguan authorities failed to apprehend the group.
According to a report by El Nuevo Diario, the 18 people arrested in Nicaragua while posing as reporters crossed into Nicaragua from Honduras and traveled down into Costa Rica multiple times since 2010.
The suspects, who posed as employees of Televisa, a Mexican television network, are currently being held in Managua on charges of organized crime and money laundering. Nicaraguan police announced that the final count for the cash seized from the group’s caravan of vehicles is $9.2 million.
During one previous trip, the group reportedly entered Nicaragua through a border crossing in Honduras known as Las Manos, then traveled down the Pan-American Highway to Peñas Blancas, Costa Rica. The border police stationed at Las Manos have been removed from their post while the chief of police in Peñas Blancas has been suspended, El Nuevo Diario reported. Nicaraguan authorities are also looking into possible links between the suspects and other customs or police officials.
A spokesman for the Honduran police told La Tribuna that the caravan repeatedly passed through the country without problem because the suspects took advantage of the “considerations [given] to the press.” In response to this lapse, the director of the national police has created a special commission to investigate how the group escaped detection by Honduran law enforcement.
Insight Crime Analysis
Although officials have yet to report the true identities of most of the suspects, at least one of the suspects is allegedly linked to “Los Charros,” a Mexico-based drug trafficking network. When detained at the border, the group told customs police that they were headed to Managua to report on the trial of Henry Fariñas, the Nicaraguan businessman accused of collaborating with Los Charros and other gangs to traffic drugs from Costa Rica into Nicaragua.