Challenges: Nicaragua remains a major transit route for cocaine flowing from South America to the United States. The United States estimated that more than 86 percent of the primary flow of the cocaine trafficked to the United States in 2013 first transited through the Central American corridor. Nicaragua faces limited law enforcement capabilities and sparsely populated regions that are difficult to police. Judicial corruption and political interference remain impediments to meaningful prosecution of narcotics trafficking. The unemployment rate on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, which is comprised of the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) and the South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS), is over 55 percent. These factors provide a favorable environment for Drug Trafficking Organizations to transit drugs, weapons, and currency, as well as to establish clandestine warehouse facilities.
Despite these conditions Nicaragua’s civilian and military law enforcement agencies conducted counternarcotics operations in 2013, mostly along the coasts and within the RAAS and the RAAN. Nicaragua remains primarily a transshipment point for illegal drugs, although the country also faces continued growth in both the domestic consumption of drugs and marijuana production.
In June 2012, due to ongoing concerns about fiscal transparency within the Government of Nicaragua, the U.S. Department of State ceased providing certain funds to Nicaraguan government agencies. This decision, mandated by U.S. law, led to phasing out several bilateral programs. These concerns with fiscal transparency and associated reduction in funding continued in 2013.
Goals: INL supports civil society programs to strengthen citizen security and diminish support for transnational criminal organizations within Nicaragua, particularly in the RAAN and RAAS, where violent crime and drug trafficking pose a greater threat. These programs build awareness of the criminal threat in Nicaragua and increase the capacity of ordinary citizens to resist the incursion of criminal networks into their communities. The programs are carried out in accordance with the goals of the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI).