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EL UNIVERSAL (Mexico)

SAN JOSÉ - The Costa Rican capital is where Los Charros, a Central American drug cartel with links to to one of Mexico's biggest mafia families, picks up cocaine to transfer through Central America. And Los Charros has found a way to launder money to cover up its trafficking revenue: by purchasing and registering vehicles and property in the name of Evangelical Churches, El Universal reports.

At least one religious foundation was identified by tax authorities as actively taking part of the cartel network.

Several of the cartel's leaders were sentenced to 27 years in prison in Nicaragua this past March, and their prosecution shed some light onto the cartel's methods. Los Charros is run from Guatemala, and its members include nationals of several Central American countries.

One member, captured in May 2011, was a judge in Nicaragua and is suspected of being a key piece in a network of document forgery. Los Charros also used hardware stores, construction companies and transportation companies to launder its drug cash.

The cartel mainly transported cocaine that was bought in Costa Rica and then transported through Nicaragua and into Guatemala in fleets of cars and trucks, El Universal reports. It is believed to work in association with Mexican drug cartels.

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Economy

How Much Longer Can The Russian Economy Survive Sanctions?

The head of the Kremlin boasted at the recent forum in St. Petersburg International Economic Forum about Russia’s economic resilience against Western sanctions. But behind the scenes, Russian business leaders tell a different story.

At a Veshki distribution center for the food retailer VkusVill, a chain of online Russian grocery stores.

Benjamin Quénelle

-Analysis-

MOSCOW — "The most effective sanction to weaken the Kremlin? Not to target us and punish us, but to give us visas instead ... to abandon the sinking the ship!" This businessman's iconoclastic perspective embodies the anxiety one could detect percolating just below the surface at the "Russian Davos" Forum in St. Petersburg last week.

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Officially called the "International" Economic Forum, the annual event organized by Vladimir Putin is meant to attract foreign investors — but this year, the elite of the national business community were cut off from the rest of the world. "Just among Russians... And forced to line up behind the regime and its economic strategies that lead us to a dead end," says the same source, a Russian manager in one of the main state-owned companies.

Like so many others, this man in his 40s, a typical representative of the new upper middle class, with a foreign passport in hand, educated in the West, liberal and multilingual, discovered his name on the lists of Western sanctions. Directly or indirectly, a large part of the Russian business world has been caught up in the European and U.S. sanctions against Moscow.

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