Russia to arm Nicaragua’s war on drugs

Nicaraguan navy special forces "capture" drug traffickers on the shores of the Puerto Corinto bay in the Pacific Ocean on August 9, 2012 during an exercise to train against threat of drug trafficking.  (AFP Photo/Hector Retamal)
Moscow says it is ready to supply equipment and weapons to Nicaragua as the global fight against the scourge of drug production and smuggling continues.

Cooperation with the Central American country “comes down to the question of weapons, uniforms and police equipment,"Viktor Ivanov, head of the Federal Drug Control Service, told reporters following negotiations with Nicaraguan police chief Aminta Granera in Moscow.

Monday’s announcement signals the next chapter in Russian-Nicaraguan drug-fighting efforts.

In February, officials from both countries agreed to conduct joint operations against drug trafficking and establish a drug enforcement training center in the Nicaraguan capital of Managua.

The center trains law enforcement officers from all Latin American countries affected by the cocaine trade, Ivanov noted.

Granera said Nicaragua was grateful for the pledge of "specialized equipment [from Russia], which will strengthen the ability of Nicaraguan police to deter crime" related to the drug trade.

Russia is no stranger in the global war on drugs. Moscow is currently working with NATO to study ways of halting drug trafficking out of Afghanistan, the Central Asian country that has experienced a sharp increase of heroin production following the removal of the Taliban.

There are approximately 2 million drug addicts in Russia, while an estimated 100,000 Russian citizens die of drug-related illnesses each year, according to statistics from the Federal Drug Control Service.

Meanwhile, Russia is also interested in stability in Central and South America due to its business investments in the region.

Ivanov mentioned that Russia has already invested about $16 billion in energy projects in Venezuela.

"Russia is developing economic relations with Latin America, which is demonstrated by the the recent development of oil fields in Venezuela,” Ivanov said. “Our task is to improve the level of professionalism [among drug control officials] in order to protect our investments in that region from drug lords."

With relations strained between the United States and various Central and South American countries, including in Nicaragua and Venezuela, Russia has found space for political and economic development.

Robert Bridge, RT