Monday, November 18, 2013

Mérida narco queen gets sentence reduction, is deported from Nicaragua

Mérida, Yucatán -
The Supreme Court of Nicaragua today authorized the deportation of 18 Mexicans who were convicted last December of narcotics trafficking and money laundering after entering the country in August 2012 while posing as reporters and technicians working for the huge Televisa network.

A convoy in which the defendants were traveling was stopped and searched by Nicaraguan customs officials and troops after it had crossed the Honduran border. They found $9.2 million USD stashed in several vehicles, all of which carried the Televisa logo. The network denied the Mexicans were its employees, and said it knew nothing of the caper.

The unquestioned leader of the band was former Mérida resident Juana Raquel Alvarado Torres. Prosecutors presented evidence that Alvarado Torres, 40, made at least 44 trips between Central America and Mexico from 2008 to 2012, accompanied by some of the other conspirators arrested with her. The vehicles they used revealed traces of cocaine, according to Nicaraguan investigators.

On Aug. 24, 2012, agents of Mexico's federal Organized Crime Strike Force (SEIDO) executed search warrants at Mérida residences belonging to Alvarado Torres. The properties searched, which were described as luxury, included several homes in upscale Colonia Altabrisa. Alvarado purchased 12 lots in Altabrisa's Marsella subdivision in 2010-11, and built homes on five. A 60 acre ranch owed by Alvarado Torres in Teya, Yucatán, on the outskirts of Mérida, was also raided by SEIDO agents.

Federal Police agents participated in the surprise, early morning operation, hauling out boxes of business and financial records from a safe found in one of the homes. Personal property seized included two Porsches and a Cadillac Escalade SUV.

Documents uncovered during the Colonia Altabrisa raid suggested that Alvarado Torres was involved in drug trafficking and money laundering operations. And that was the conclusion of a Nicaraguan criminal court, which last January sentenced Alvarado and her co-defendants to 30 years in prison. Mérida millionairess convicted on all counts in Nicaragua.

But on Oct 1. an appellate tribunal reduced all the terms by almost half. Today the Nicaraguan Supreme Court ordered the deportation of the defendants on motion of their attorneys, with the condition the sentences be served in Mexican prisons. They could be returned at any moment, a lawyer involved in the case said. The president of the court denied that it had acted under pressure from anyone, and noted it would be costly for Nicaragua to maintain them for years.

Dec. 24 - The queen has returned just in time for Christmas - but in chains.

Previous reports on this case
Oct. 24 - Mexico's Organized Crime Strike Force searches Mérida homes of Yucatán narco queen
Oct. 17 - Narcos invest in Mérida luxury homes

Related content
Apr. 8, 2013 - Nicaragua: drug traffickers "could overrun us"
Feb. 1 - Yucatán safety continues to be subject of hot debate
Sept. 27, 2012 - On Mexico's southern border is the most violent zone on the planet, says U.N.
Dec. 29, 2011 - Honduras "invaded by drug traffickers" - 100 tons of cocaine shipped yearly to U.S., "where the customers are"

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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