Police raided five homes and businesses in San José on Tuesday in an attempt to detain the gang leader of a band of mobsters that are suspected to be behind the ambush that killed the Argentine musician Facundo Cabral in Guatemala City last month.
The still-fugitive leader, identified as a Costa Rican named Alejandro Jiménez, headed an organization dedicated to “integral narcotrafficking activites,” said Costa Rican Attorney General Jorge Chavarría.
“What we have here are drug traffickers, money launderers and hired killers,” Chavarría said. “Cabral’s murder is an act of revenge, for reasons related to drug trafficking, aimed at (the Nicaraguan Henry) Fariñas and which incidentally involved Mr. Cabral.”
Cabral, 74, was killed July 9 in Guatemala City en route to the airport. The assassins attacked a vehicle carrying Fariñas and Cabral after the two left their hotel.
We are working with prosecutors in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica,” Chavarría said. “This is a regional operation.”
Jíménez has been investigated by authorities in Costa Rica since 2009, under suspicion of money laundering. One of the homes raided was built a few weeks ago at the cost of $2 million.
Jorge Rojas, head of the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ), said that Jiménez took frequent trips between Costa Rica and Panama with his Costa Rican passport. But it was also discovered that he was traveling between Nicaragua and Guatemala with a fake Nicaraguan passport.
In Guatemala, a country where the United Nations says more than 95 percent of crimes go unpunished, investigators detained two suspects in just 72 hours, and announced that the mastermind of the crime was a Costa Rican that went by the alias “El Palidejo.”
Central America is suffering a wave of violence largely created by organized crime and gangs that are manipulated by drug cartels.
Three of the countries of the region (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador) have homicide rates among the highest in the world, more than 50 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, and higher than those recorded in war zones like Iraq, according to official statistics.
A few days before the hit that killed Facundo Cabral, a hotel located a few hundred meters from the execution site had hosted an international summit to obtain resources and outline a plan to combat organized crime in Central America.
Cabral rose to fame in the 1970s with his protest music. He wrote songs primarily about peace, love and everyday pleasures and pain.