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Cablegate: Small Arms Cache Seized in Nicaragua

VZCZCXYZ0022
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #1087 3221528
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 181528Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0151
INFO WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA IMMEDIATE
RUEHSN/AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR

UNCLAS MANAGUA 001087

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
STATE FOR WHA/CEN
STATE FOR INL
STATE FOR INR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL SNAR KJUS KCRM NU
SUBJECT: Small Arms Cache Seized in Nicaragua

Summary

1. (U) On Sunday, November 15 the Nicaraguan National Police (NNP)
and the Nicaraguan Army (NA) seized a small arms cache from a
Nissan Pathfinder traveling north on the Pan American Highway 35
miles outside of Managua after it ignored a police checkpoint.
Nicaraguan police and military officials believe the seized weapons
belong to a cell of the Mexican Sinaola Cartel that is suspected to
be operating in Nicaragua. The weapons confiscation marks an
alarming trend of arms flowing north to Honduras along the Pan
American Highway in Nicaragua. End Summary.

Suspected Arms Cache of Sinaloa Cartel Confiscated Flowing North

2. (U) On Sunday, November 16 at 3:00am the Nicaraguan National
Police (NNP) and the Nicaraguan Army (NA) confiscated a small arms
cache 35 miles outside of Managua from a Nissan Pathfinder
traveling north on the Pan American Highway after it failed to stop
at a police check point. The NNP, who fired warning shots once the
SUV failed to stop, later found the vehicle abandoned near the Pan
American Highway and seized 61 weapons with ammunition from the
trunk. The NA confiscated 53 AK-47 rifles, 4 M-16 assault rifles,
a GALIL assault rifle, M-79 grenade launcher, 2 hand held
improvised projectile devices, 10 fragmentation grenades, 20 rolls
of TNT, and over 82 AK-47 magazines. Police failed to apprehend or
identify the suspects involved in the incident.

3. (U) Both the NNP and NA believe that the seized materials belong
to a small cell of the Mexican Sinaloa drug trafficking cartel
suspected to be operating in Nicaragua. Officials identified
Roberto Bedolla Corono, alias "El Ingeniero," as the principal
leader of the Nicaraguan based Sinaloa cell, which is suspected to
be buying arms principally across rural areas in Nicaragua.
Nicaraguan officials did not detail Corono's connection to the
weapons seizure. Following the confiscation, the NNP extended its
investigation by raiding several locations in Managua reportedly
being used as arms caches, including a house previously rented by
Corono. The searches yielded no further arms confiscations;
however, further investigations are being conducted.

Origin and Destination of Weapons

4. (SBU) The exact origin of the seized weapons is currently
unknown. However, Salvador GutiC)rrez, head of the Nicaragua Army
Special Forces, claimed that the AK-47 rifles obtained originated
from diverse sources as evidenced by their varied models. The
confiscated weapons are being sent to the National Criminal
Laboratory to ascertain their source. Vilma Reyes, Nicaraguan
Police Commissioner, speculated that the cache was going to Mexico
to support the operations of the Sinaloa Cartel. When questioned
by local reporters, GutiC)rrez rejected the possibility that the
small arsenal originated from Nicaraguan weapon storage facilities
given the strict oversight of these sites by the NA. We have
requested additional information on the seizure from the NNP,
including serial numbers from the weapons.

Comments

5. (SBU) Although drugs and currency are the contraband most
commonly transited in Nicaragua, based on anecdotal accounts, there
appears to be an increase in weapons smuggling activity in
Nicaragua. More importantly, this weapons seizure marks a
disturbing trend of weapons moving north among the Pan American
Highway toward Honduras as opposed to the south, the traditional
transit route for weapons smuggling.
CALLAHAN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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