MANAGUA – Police in Nicaragua arrested three men from Culiacan, the capital of the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa, who were carrying more than $200,000 in cash and charged them with money laundering, a police spokeswoman said.
The suspects were arrested at 9:00 p.m. Friday in Tipitapa, a city in Managua province, National Police legal affairs chief Glenda Zavala said.
Officers found 17 packages containing a total of $202,600 in cash in one of the two vehicles seized from the suspects, Zavala said.
Adolfo Dominguez Acosta, 29, Felix Carlos Cebada Irias, 39, and Manuel de Jesus Mendoza, 34, were arrested in the operation, the police chief said.
A fourth man, who was driving one of the vehicles, managed to get away, Zavala said.
Police later searched a house that the Mexicans were renting in a residential section of Managua, where they found tape and bags “that were used for the packets of drugs,” Zavala said.
“We are working with prosecutors and, under the Criminal Code, it’s being treated as a money laundering crime,” the police chief said.
Asked whether the Mexicans were members of the Sinaloa drug cartel, Zavala said police could not “comment at this time if they have links to the Sinaloa” criminal organization.
“We are still in the process of investigating,” the police chief said, adding that no firearms were seized in the operation.
Mexico’s drug cartels have expanded their presence in Nicaragua, using the Central American country as a base for distributing cocaine from Colombia to other countries, officials say.
Sinaloa is home to the drug cartel led by Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman, who was arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and pulled off a Hollywood-style jailbreak when he escaped from the Puente Grande maximum-security prison in the western state of Jalisco on Jan. 19, 2001.
The Sinaloa organization, sometimes referred to by Mexican officials as the Pacific cartel, is the oldest drug cartel in Mexico and Guzman, considered extremely violent, is one of the most-wanted criminals in Mexico and the United States, where the Drug Enforcement Administration has offered a reward of $5 million for him.