Photo: The fake journalists
Mexican media giant Televisa said in a statement released Wednesday that none of the 18 suspects arrested last week in Nicaragua in possession of a big cash haul and disguised as news journalists has ever worked at the company and also denied any link to the vehicles seized from them.
Latin America’s biggest TV broadcaster said it has already issued a formal statement to Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office denying any ties to the detainees, adding that that document will be forwarded to the Nicaraguan authorities.
The 18 suspects were arrested on Aug. 20 in Nicaragua in possession of $9.2 million in cash at a checkpoint near the border with Honduras. Traces of cocaine were found on the bills.
The suspects had hid the money inside six news vans bearing the Televisa logo that they were driving at the time of their arrest, police spokesman Fernando Borge told Efe earlier this week.
Arraigned Saturday on charges of money laundering and racketeering, the 18 suspects are being held without bail.
The group tried to enter Nicaragua from Honduras en route to Costa Rica, Nicaraguan prosecutors said.
In its statement, the media company said it may file a complaint against the suspects for allegedly trying to pass themselves off as Televisa employees and/or their vehicles as Televisa property.
“From the moment these actions came to light, the company has cooperated with Mexican authorities in their investigation,” Televisa added.
One of the 18 people arrested appears to be a municipal police officer from the Mexican city of Durango.
The phony journalists were intercepted shortly before the beginning of a high-profile trial in Managua of 24 people accused of smuggling Colombian drugs via Costa Rica to Guatemala, for ultimate delivery to traffickers in neighboring Mexico.
The defendants include Nicaraguan promoter Henry Fariña, thought to have been the real target of the July 9, 2011, attack in Guatemala that resulted in the death of Argentina’s Facundo Cabral, a folk music icon.
The alleged ringleader is Costa Rican citizen Alejandro Jimenez, now awaiting trial in Guatemala for the death of Cabral.
Fariña was driving Cabral - who had given a concert in Guatemala City the previous night - to La Aurora International Airport when they came under attack on a street on the Guatemalan capital’s south side.
The Nicaraguan businessman told Guatemalan prosecutors that Jimenez was behind the attack, saying the Costa Rican had threatened to kill him for refusing to sell the Elite chain of adult nightclubs in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
Authorities in Guatemala, however, said the attack was spurred by the theft of a drug consignment.