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Nicaragua Captures Suspected Traffickers in Autonomous Zone

NICARAGUA / 9 JAN 2012 BY EDWARD FOX EN

Seven alleged members of Colombian and Honduran drug gangs were detained in a naval operation in a semi-autonomous region on Nicaragua's northeast coast.

According to El Nuevo Diario, the operation, which also saw the seizure of weapons and marijuana, was carried out near the coastal town of Sandy Bay, north of the departmental capital of Bilwi.

This latest move comes as part of a crackdown on crime in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) which has caused problems with some local indigenous leaders, who accuse the authorities of imposing draconian control measures.

InSight Crime Analysis

The use of indigenous areas in Nicaragua brings trafficking organizations additional cover from the national authorities, due to the sometimes fraught nature of the relationship between indigenous leaders and the government.

Nicaragua is a key transit point for drug traffickers in the region, although it does not have the same criminal infrastructure as some of its neighbors to both the north and south. Nicaraguan authorities, particularly the navy, have become increasingly important players in the US's regional fight against drug trafficking, and have been the recipients of $36.1 million in military aid from the US since 2007.

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