NICARAGUA NEWS – Authorities in Nicaragua have seized approximately 886 kilos of cocaine over the past two weeks near the border with Costa Rica, highlighting the importance of the country’s Pacific region to overland drug trafficking.
The cocaine was seized during four separate operations carried out by Nicaragua’s police and military in Rivas, a province that borders Costa Rica and is located in the strip of land separating Lake Nicaragua from the Pacific Coast, reported El Nuevo Diario.
The most recent operation, on July 17, resulted in the seizure of approximately 425 kilos of cocaine, which was reportedly the largest seizure the country has seen so far this year. Authorities discovered the drugs hidden in a truck in the Rivas municipality of San Juan del Sur, and arrested the Nicaraguan national transporting the shipment.
Three similar operations in Rivas on July 3, July 8 and July 16 resulted in the arrests of three Nicaraguans and one Costa Rican, and cocaine seizures of 31 kilos, 292 kilos, and 138 kilos, respectively. One of the seizures was made at the Nicaragua-Costa Rica Peñas Blancas border crossing.
While Nicaragua has not experienced the gang and drug-fueled violence of its Northern Triangle neighbors, certain regions of the country are used as transshipment points for cocaine heading northward.
Two regions particularly heavily affected by the drug trade are the remote North Atlantic and South Atlantic Autonomous Regions (known as the RAAN and the RAAS respectively) on the Caribbean side, which have homicide rates much higher than the rest of the country. These regions are used as stopovers for go-fast boats, and cocaine is trafficked via drug flights to the Mosquito Coast.
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However, Rivas, which lies along the Pan-American Highway and is the only province in Nicaragua with a formal border crossing with Costa Rica, also plays an important role in the drug trade for cocaine moved overland. It serves as a point of entry into Nicaragua for Colombian cocaine shipments and, according to the National Police, the region is used for transport principally by Mexican cartels. Gangs dedicated to the theft of drug shipments, known as “tumbadores,” also operate in the area.
The Peñas Blancas border crossing sees an especially large amount of cocaine seizures, with four tons of the drug seized there between January and April of 2012 alone.
Although none of the present seizures have been linked to specific criminal organizations, their close geographic proximity suggests they are likely tied to the same criminal network.