HomeNewsBriefTarget of Facundo Cabral Murder Faces Drug Trafficking Charges
BRIEF

Target of Facundo Cabral Murder Faces Drug Trafficking Charges

NICARAGUA / 2 APR 2012 BY EDWARD FOX EN

Henry Fariñas, the target of the attack that killed Argentine folk singer Facundo Cabral in July, is facing drug trafficking charges in his home country of Nicaragua, raising the possibility that the attempted hit was drug-related.

On Saturday, a Nicaraguan prosecutor filed charges of drug trafficking and money laundering against Fariñas, who was arrested Thursday. The Associated Press reports that Fariñas (pictured) is accused of helping a drug trafficking organization known as the "Charros" to move narcotics from Costa Rica to Nicaragua, and may have had links to the Colombian Rastrojos drug gang.

Six others were indicted, including US citizen Gerald James Shackelford, who remains at large, reports the AFP.

Fariñas owns the Central American night club chain Elite and was thought to be the target of the attack that killed Facundo Cabral on 9 July last year in Guatemala.

The indictment accuses Fariñas of using shows by international artists, like Cabral, to launder money.

The man alleged to have ordered Fariñas' murder, Costa Rican Alejandro Jimenez Gonzalez, alias “El Palidejo,” was arrested in Colombia last month and has been extradited to Guatemala to face murder charges. He is believe to have served as a key link between the Rastrojos and the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel.

InSight Crime Analysis

In the aftermath of the July 9 assassination attempt, Fariñas told Guatemalan investigators that Jimenez had plotted to kill him because he refused to sell the Costa Rican branch of Elite for $400,000. These claims have not been corroborated, and the trafficking charges against Fariñas make it more likely that the hit was drug-related, particularly if both had ties to the Rastrojos, as has been claimed.

The fact that Fariñas' arrest came so soon after Jimenez's suggests that Jimenez may have started cooperating with the authorities, as a retired senior police chief told El Nuevo Diario.

As InSight Crime has noted, Fariñas appears to be well connected in Nicaragua, as evidenced by the defense of the night club owner by Nicaragua's Supreme Court President Alba Luz Ramos when Guatemalan authorities suggested he may have been the target in the attack, and by the failure of Nicaragua's authorities to successfully gather evidence against him in the past, despite suspicions of criminal ties.

His detention therefore suggests that Nicaraguan authorities may have decided to sacrifice him, possibly to protect someone higher up who is involved in drug trafficking and money laundering.

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