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Nicaragua Nabs Cocaine Lord off Miskito Coast

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Photo by BENAVIDES/AFP/GettyImages

A Colombian cartel operative—who established Central America’s remote and lawless Miskito Coast as a major cocaine transfer point, building a mini-empire in the region of jungle, savanna and offshore cays—has been cooling his heels in Managua’s notorious El Chipote prison since Feb. 7, according to a new report in the Nicaraguan daily La Prensa.

Although his capture was confirmed by his attorney, Nicaraguan authorities failed to announce the arrest of the country’s most-wanted crime lord, Amauri Carmona Morelos AKA Alberto Ruiz Cano.

The account speculates this may be because he was actually captured by Honduran authorities, and quietly extradited. The Miskito Coast straddles the border of the two countries, and Carmona Morelos had operations on both sides.

According to a profile on InSight Crime, Carmona Morelos was first dispatched to Central America by the old Cali Cartel, and continued to work on behalf of its successor network, the Norte del Valle Cartel. In addition to his jungle operations, he also allegedly owned a nightclub in Managua, which he used as a strategic spot to negotiate prices and set up cocaine shipments.

His main base of operations was the coastal village of Walpa Siksa in Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN), which he protected with deadly force.

The most notorious incident was in December 2009, when a Nicaraguan naval patrol was sent to the area to look for a downed narco-plane. Carmona Morelos’s gunmen repulsed the patrol’s speed-boats in an ambush, leaving three troops dead.

It remains to be seen if the fall of Carmona Morelos will break the Colombian cartels’ Miskito Coast connection or if an heir will inherit his operations.

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