A joint anti-drug effort between the Russian and Nicaraguan governments brought down earlier this week a Central American drug gang with ties to Mexico’s violent Zetas cartel.
According to Russian media reports, Russia’s logistical support for Nicaragua’s drug-war effort helped net 40 people and 1.2 tons of cocaine last week in multiple raids in Managua, Rivas, Masaya, Matagalpa and Chinandega.
"Thanks to our logistical support, Nicaragua has succeeded in dismantling a major drug ring headed by a Mexican named Martín Flores, who served the Mexican cartel Los Zetas", Russia's drug-czar Victor Ivanov said, according to the Nicaraguan newspaper El Nuevo Diario. Ivanov added that the narco group has established close contact with Europeans to supply cocaine throughout Europe and Russia.
The raids are the first busts since Nicaragua and Russia signed an agreement last February that included a Russian-funded anti-narcotics training center to be constructed in the Central American nation and the promise of Russian equipment and weapons, including a fleet of Russian-made “Tiger” urban-assault vehicles.
Relations between the two nations have dramatically increased over the last few years, especially in terms of military aid flowing across the Atlantic to Nicaragua from Russia. In 2011 Russia allegedly provided Nicaragua with $26.5 million in military aid, compared to about $3 million from the U.S. military, according to Nicaragua’s English-language news site, Nicaragua Dispatch.
Nicaragua and Russia have had close relations since the days of the 'Contras' war in the 1980s, when the Soviet Union provided weapons and armament to the Sandinista government. Dealings between the two countries cooled once the Sandinista government left office in 1990, but picked back up once Daniel Ortega resumed the Nicaraguan presidency in 2006.