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Nicaragua

Nicaragua has long been one of the least violent countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Although some local gangs and at least one transnational criminal organization have a foothold there, so far the country has not experienced the high homicide rates common in its Central American neighbors.

Latest News

InSight Crime’s 2020 Homicide Round-Up

ANALYSIS / 29 JAN 2021

While unrest gripped much of Latin America in 2019, it was the coronavirus that took center stage and ripped through the region in 2020, upending everything from commercial trade to…

Decades of Deforestation, Illegal Mining and Impunity in Nicaragua

ANALYSIS / 27 JAN 2021

Nicaragua's Indio Maíz Biological Reserve, on the southern border with Costa Rica, is under assault.

Human Smuggling Thrives Between Costa Rica and Nicaragua

ANALYSIS / 15 JAN 2021

Recent interceptions linked to the illicit smuggling of migrants at Nicaragua’s border with Costa Rica have illustrated the extent to which clandestine groups and individuals dedicated to the trade continue…

Nicaragua Profile

Criminal Actors

Armed Groups

Nicaragua has largely avoided the permanent presence of transnational criminal groups, but this has not prevented such actors from using the strategically located Central American nation as a launchpad to transport drugs to the United States. In place of well-defined criminal structures, homegrown armed groups provide key transport services while also engaging in a variety of criminal activities, from illegal logging to animal smuggling and cattle rustling. Official corruption emanates from the highest levels of government.

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Personalities

Francisco Zeledon

FRANCISCO ZELEDON / 2017-03-09 21:34:20

Francisco, or Frank, Zeledon, allegedly runs a drug trafficking network from the city of Bluefields on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. He is best known in the region as a businessman, landowner…

Amauri Carmona Morelos

AMAURI CARMONA MORELOS / 2017-08-28

Amauri Carmona Morelos, who also goes by the name Alberto Ruiz Cano and Amauri Paudd, is an alleged drug trafficker operating along Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast. Carmona reportedly had links to…

News

CACHIROS / 28 DEC 2020

A rush of drug plane traffic from South America, coupled with traffickers smuggling large cocaine shipments after coronavirus border restrictions eased, led to a surge in narcotics transiting Central America…

COCA / 22 DEC 2020

President-elect Joe Biden has a chance to reset the table on US-Latin American relations, but the Donald Trump administration’s schizophrenic, transactional approach may leave some lasting scars that will be…

COCAINE / 29 OCT 2020

A string of drug trafficking busts connected to Nicaragua have occurred over the past few weeks, raising questions over just how much cocaine is flowing through the country, in spite…

NICARAGUA / 20 JUL 2020

Nicaragua’s National Police is seizing large amounts of drug money while confiscating less cocaine compared to years past, calling into question how the struggling force is finding the money and…

EL SALVADOR / 11 MAY 2020

Recent US indictments have shown in detail how Venezuela was at one point a key stepping stone for cocaine heading to the United States via Central America and how political,…

COSTA RICA / 29 APR 2020

Costa Rica has enhanced border security during the coronavirus pandemic to crack down on human smuggling from Nicaragua, but its measures are undermined by a lack of communication between the…

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