Fake Mexico TV crew jailed in Nicaragua for 30 years
- 18 January 2013
- From the section Latin America & Caribbean
A court in Nicaragua has jailed for 30 years each 18 people who tried to enter the country with $9.2m (£5.8m), posing as Mexican TV journalists.
A judge in Managua found them guilty of money-laundering and organising a drug link between Mexico and Costa Rica.
They were arrested in August after police found the cash and traces of cocaine in six vans, some painted with Mexico's Televisa network logo.
Central America is increasingly a transit route for Mexican drug gangs.
The only woman in the group was named as their leader and sentenced to 20 years for international drug-trafficking, eight-and-a-half years for organised crime and seven years for money-laundering - a total of more than 35 years.
However, 30 years is set by Nicaraguan law as the maximum prison sentence.
"Raquel Alatorre Correa will finish her sentence on 24 August, 2042," said the judge.
The money and the vans have been confiscated by the judge.
The 18 Mexicans had already been found guilty in December but were awaiting their sentences.
At the time of their arrest, the self-proclaimed journalists said they had been sent to cover a high-profile murder for Televisa, Mexico's biggest TV network, but the company quickly denied any link to the group.
Its lawyer said they were still awaiting results of the analysis of the signature on the supposed letter of accreditation to ascertain the possible involvement of a Televisa employee, local newspaper La Prensa reports.
The defendants denied the charges against them.