The head of Nicaragua’s military stated that authorities have been unable to capture suspected drug trafficker Donly Mendoza due to a lack of information on his whereabouts, an admission that overlooks the possibility of Mendoza’s power playing a role in avoiding arrest.
In a July 24 press conference, General Julio Cesar Aviles Castillo announced that the government is actively pursuing Donly Mendoza, believed to be the leader of a drug trafficking organization based in eastern Nicaragua.
Aviles dismissed reports that Mendoza is living more or less openly in the city of Puerto Cabezas, where he is rumored to travel with a group of 20 to 30 bodyguards, stating, “Look, if he were going around with 30 armed men at all times, rest assured that we would have already neutralized and captured him. He is hiding out.”
In January, police attempted to arrest Mendoza in the eastern city of Sandy Bay. While officials took seven individuals into custody and seized several firearms, Mendoza avoided capture.
InSight Crime Analysis
General Aviles’ remarks seem to be the latest sign that the government is beginning to crack down on drug trafficking along the Caribbean coast. Earlier in July the Ortega administration announced that it would create a commission tasked with investigating the issue.
However, the general’s dismissal of Mendoza’s relatively high profile is worrisome, and suggests this effort may not be in earnest. Accounts of Mendoza’s heavy security detail are more than just rumors. In its visit to the area last year, police sources confirmed to InSight Crime that Mendoza travels with a group of 40 bodyguards.
Mendoza also reportedly enjoys considerable power in the area, owing to his status as a major player in the regional drug trade. Local officials said that Mendoza has connections to organized crime in other countries as well, maintaining links to both Honduran and Mexican groups. As such, the Nicaraguan government’s failure to capture him could be due to his money and influence than to law enforcement’s inability to locate him.