Crime and Violence · Human Rights and Civil Society

Zetas cell linked to Russia dismantled in Central America

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov during Lavrov’s 2010 Tour of Latin America
Photo: Elmer Martinez, AFP

03/19/13 – On March 11, Victor Petrovic Ivanov, director of the Federal Drug Control Service of the Russian Federation (FSKN) informed Russian President Vladimir Putin that a drug trafficking network linking Central America and Russia headed by Mexican national Martín Sánchez Flores, who is allegedly tied to the Zetas cartel–one of Mexico’s most notorious and brutal organizations–, was dismantled this month. According to Ivanov, the operation was launched during the beginning of March with the help of Nicaragua. In February 2012, Russia and Nicaragua signed an agreement in which each country vowed to cooperate with one another in the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime. According to Nicaragua’s El Nuevo Diario, the agreement stipulates the exchange of technical assistance, counsel and information, logistical aid, and coordinated operations against drug trafficking and organized crime. Ivanov praised his country’s operation with Nicaragua stating that the joint effort and support of Nicaragua has enabled the two countries to gradually sever the extensive contacts of drug trafficking networks in smuggling drugs (namely cocaine) from Central America to Europe and Russia.

Nicaraguan police spokesman Fernando Borge said that during the operation that brought down Flores’ network, Operation Temis, 63 raids were undertaken in Nicaragua–namely Managua, Rivas, Masaya, Matagalpa, and Chinandega–the last of which is where Flores’ was captured. In addition to Flores, Mexican drug trafficker José Joel Torres Chaperón, who oversaw cells in the network that provided logistical support in receiving and distributing drugs as well as providing security during drug transports, was also captured. Overall, the dismantled network consisted of Nicaraguans, Panamanians, Salvadorians, Guatemalans, and Hondurans, according to Univision.

El Universal reported that during the operation 26 people were detained and $13,769 (USD) in U.S. currency, $207,083 in Canadian currency (approximately $202,400 USD), and $33,500 Mexican pesos (over $2,600 USD) were seized. 63 properties, two big rigs, 20 light rail vehicles, 15 motor boats, 15 marine motors, and four firearms were also found.

El Nuevo Diario of Nicaragua claims that as of late experts have observed a dramatic increase in drug trafficking activity from Central America to Europe through Western Africa as well as an increase in transnational crime. In light of this the FSKN, during May 2012, decided to begin training Central American police officials to combat the growing drug trafficking phenomenon. Up to 30 police forces across Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Panama, and Honduras have undergone such training courses.


 “Cae Cabecilla De Los Zetas En Nicaragua; Traficaban Droga En Rusia.” Univisión. March 12, 2013.

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