Authorities in Nicaragua are discreetly prosecuting a major underworld figure from the country's Caribbean coast, highlighting the area's important but often overlooked role in the international cocaine trafficking chain.
Amauri Carmona Morelos, also known as José Alberto Ruiz Cano and Amaury Paudd, is currently being prosecuted on charges of international drug trafficking, homicide, illegal carrying of weapons, money laundering as well as damages to the Nicaraguan state and members of the military and national police, La Prensa reported on August 27.
Captured in February earlier this year, the alleged trafficker is believed to have shipped Colombian cocaine via Colombia's San Andrés island to points along Nicaragua's Caribbean Coast. Carmona is also thought to have participated in a deadly 2009 ambush against dozens of security forces with the help of the local community in Nicaragua's remote coastal Walpasiksa area, where Carmona had set up a base of operations.
SEE ALSO: Profile of Amauri Carmona Morelos
Nicaraguan authorities have provided little information on Carmona's case. As reported by La Prensa in February, his arrest was confirmed by his lawyer several weeks after the event, while police refused to publicly comment on the capture. Based on information from unnamed "unofficial sources," the Nicaraguan news outlet reported that the trafficker may have been arrested in Honduras, where he also operated, and secretly handed over to Nicaraguan authorities without following due process.
The secrecy around the prosecution, conducted behind closed doors, only adds to the mystery of this criminal figure, who operated with a national identity card in Nicaragua but was also reported to originate from Colombia, Honduras and even Peru. What is sure is that his links to Colombia's San Andrés archipelago are longstanding. In 2000, Carmona was a crew member of a boat on which San Andrés police found several kilograms of cocaine. However, he was cleared of all charges related to the incident the following year.
InSight Crime Analysis
The Carmona case is illustrative of the often overlooked but important role played by Nicaragua's Caribbean coast within the international cocaine trafficking chain.
As InSight Crime chronicled in a special investigation, the coast has developed major logistical services in support of maritime cocaine shipments heading north. Local capos such as Carmona typically use remote areas with little to no land access to stock drugs and wait out naval operations, and to repair and refuel go-fast boats that traffic the cocaine.
SEE ALSO: Nicaragua News and Profiles
In addition to its natural characteristics, socioeconomic dynamics have turned Nicaragua's Caribbean coast into fertile ground for trafficking operations. Local impoverished indigenous populations live in areas largely devoid of state presence or services, and certain communities still lack trust in federal authorities, due to conflicts with the government of President Daniel Ortega dating back to the 1980s. This provides an ideal recruitment environment for organized crime groups, allowing them to conduct their operations in the area largely unchallenged.