Bellingcat OSINT Investigation: An Analysis of Nicaragua’s “Volunteer Police” Paramilitary Arsenal
Open-Source Intelligence Forum Bellingcat has published a report on Nicaragua’s use of paramilitary organizations to quell the country’s protests in 2018, prompting renewed criticism against the uses by NGOs. These open-source data points support widespread reporting from sources formerly within the country’s law enforcement agencies that the paramilitary groups were not civilian-organized government sympathizers, but organized and coordinated attack forces integrated into the national police, ultimately directed by President Daniel Ortega. Ortega had previously accused drug traffickers and the U.S. of financing and running these paramilitary groups before adjusting statements and saying that they were “volunteer police.” In February of this year, the head of the national police shared in an interview that the groups were a mix of “professional police” carrying out “secret operations” and “volunteer police.”
Through an OSINT investigation of media taken during multiple protests, OSINT investigators with Bellingcat identify several features of the paramilitary organization that support their direct connection to the country’s law enforcement and the government.