Nicaragua judge rules 30 years in prison for 18 fake Mexican journalists in $9.2M bust

A Nicaraguan judge has sentenced 18 Mexicans who posed as a television crew to 30 years in prison for drug trafficking and money laundering stemming from $9.2 million found in their news vans.

Judge Edgard Altamirano says the 17 men and one woman deserve the harshest penalty possible under the Central American nation's law. Altamirano said Friday's sentencing that each of those convicted must also pay a $9.2 million fine.

The 18 fake journalists were arrested in August near Nicaragua's northern border with Honduras in six vans bearing logos like those used by Mexican television giant Televisa. Gym bags stuffed with bundles of cash were found stashed in compartments inside the vehicles.

Televisa says none of the 18 worked for it and the vans aren't part of the company's fleet.