by Gianni Beretta

There are now more and more cases of containers from Nicaragua being discovered in Europe with large quantities of drugs hidden inside. In the port of Vado Ligure, the coastal police Guardia di Finanza found 116 kilos of cocaine hidden in sacks of coffee from Nicaragua. The value of the 102 packages of drugs is estimated at 7 million euros. The container had been unloaded from an inter-oceanic freighter in the port of Genoa and then sorted in the smaller port of Savona. Investigators are now trying to trace the consignees of the goods. But it was only on 10 January that Russian customs seized over a tonne of cocaine in the port of St Petersburg, packed in a thousand packages (bearing the initials BBB and DIOR) and worth a good 120 million euros.

Nothing has been heard of the results of the subsequent investigations, nor has there been any comment from Managua. In October last year, 40 bricks of cocaine were intercepted in the free port of Malta, also from the Central American country, this time hidden in a consignment of peanuts.

To stay in Italy, ten years ago the Nucleo Investigativo of the Carabinieri in Rome carried out the Bate investigation, which led to the discovery of a cocaine ring run by a company from the Castelli Romani that processed stone shipped to the port of Corinth (on the Nicaraguan Pacific), in which the white powder was hidden in containers that had arrived in various Italian ports. At the time, investigators made around 20 arrests of suspects from Puglia and Calabria who, in turn, were involved in drug trafficking.

According to the television programme Esta Semana, directed by Carlos Fernando Chamorro, former director (during the revolution) of the organ of the Sandinista Barricade Front and now forced into exile in Costa Rica, the transit of drugs in Nicaragua is directly managed by the family clan of President Daniel Ortega and his deputy (and consort) Rosario Murillo. They would choose which cartel to work with on a case-by-case basis. After all, the presidential couple’s son-in-law, Francisco Diaz, is none other than Nicaragua’s chief of police, the man who monitors drug trafficking movements in the country. It is no coincidence that in recent years his agents have intercepted suspected drug shipments, each time incredibly accompanied by hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash. This has never happened on the drug routes in the rest of Latin America. Undoubtedly, this is nothing more than a ‘laundering’ of money that has been illegally in the hands of the Ortega family.

Moreover, in Managua, no leaf moves without Murillo’s permission. Everything is orchestrated to the last millimetre. This includes relations with the drug cartels, as Javier Melendez, former director of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Public Policy, which was closed down by the regime after the student uprising was smothered in blood in 2018, assured Esta Semana. Since then, all political, social, media and even Catholic opposition have been gradually expelled or forced to leave the country. At the same time, the business of trafficking cocaine, gold, timber and migrants to the United States has been consolidated in the hands of the Orteguista dynasty.

Further evidence of this is the news in recent days that the right-wing former president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, has taken refuge in the Nicaraguan embassy in the Panamanian capital to avoid a ten-year prison sentence for money laundering. This is the man who, until a few months ago, was the favourite candidate in the recent presidential elections. He was succeeded by his dauphin, José Raúl Ulivo, whose first act after being elected was to go to the Nicaraguan embassy to be photographed with his mentor, Martinelli.

On the cover photo, plastic package, two lines and pile of cocaine ©photopixel/