Nicaragua: Daniel Ortega jailed his regime’s former spy chief
The man who until a couple of months ago controlled the information on all Nicaraguans would be in the police jail of The Chipoteas reported by various media outlets in the Central American country, according to unofficial sources.
This is the commissioner general, now in retirement, Adolfo Marencoformer deputy director of the Police and former head of Police Investigation and Political Intelligence, who is said to be one of the four most powerful people in Nicaragua due to the information he handled, his closeness to Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, and his role in the political repression of the regime.
The reasons for Marenco’s possible detention are still unclear. According to the Confidencial platform, Marenco would have fallen out of favor in the eyes of Ortega and Murillo after participating in acts of corruption and private businesses “Not allowed”.
However, the outlet handles two other versions from police sources: one is that the high-ranking police officer intended to “escape” of the country and the other is that “he refused to continue working for the Ortega-Murillos, which further irritated the presidential couple.”
Adolfo Joel Marenco Corea, 57 years old, reached the rank of General Commissioner in the Nicaraguan Police, the second rank in the police hierarchy, only below that of “First Commissioner” that corresponds to the General Director of the Police.
He joined the then Sandinista Police in 1985 and, after serving in different positions, in 2017 he became head of the powerful National Council against Organized Crime, a position that according to the description of Confidencial “allowed him to have access to the Financial Analysis Unit , the Superintendency of Banks, the General Directorate of Income, the Ministry of the Interior, among other institutions”.
Marenco led a team of about 70 agents in charge of the espionage for the Nicaraguan regime. They monitored the media, social networks and personal communications. “Every citizen who is frompolitical interest‘has a file that Marenco has been in charge of preparing,” a police source told Confidencial.
“Adolfo Marenco not only had access to all the information about anyone that modern spying means allow you to obtain, but he also worked the old-fashioned way, with undercover copsinfiltrating people into what they consider to be enemy organizations, and weaving a network of snitches that they kept him informed about the people who were targeted or who reported suspicious circumstances in his neighborhood,” says a source on condition of anonymity.
“Those spy networks and instruments are still there. It is not because Marenco is in prison that they are going to be dismantled, because espionage is essential for the political repression of the dictatorship”, the source clarifies.
The information provided by the espionage directorate was key to dismantling the 2018 protests, through the infiltration of opposition structures and the photographic and message recording that later served for the arrests and prosecution.
On November 25, 2022, Marenco was surprisingly sent into retirement, just two days after being named president of the Institute for Security and Human Development (ISSDHU), the institution that administers pensions for the Police and the Ministry of the Interior.
“Order the withdrawal of the National Police, of the General Commissioner Adolfo Joel Marenco Corea, in accordance with article 56, third paragraph, of the Law of Organization, Functions, Career and Special Regime of Social Security of the National Police”, indicates the presidential agreement published in the official newspaper La Gaceta.
Commissioner General Zhukov Serrano Pérez replaced Marenco in the Intelligence Directorate of the National Police.
According to the digital platform 100% Noticias, Marenco was taken to El Chipote prison last Friday after being taken from his home, in the Las Colinas residential area, Managua, where he was under de facto house arrest. El Chipote is the police jail where fifty political prisoners of the more than 220 held by the regime have been held.
Before coming to power in 2007, Daniel Ortega began a process of co-optation of the National Police that aborted the professionalization that the body had begun in 1990 and turned it into a kind of political police at the service of his regime.
In August 2018, Ortega appointed Francisco Díaz as Director General of the National Police. Blanca Flores, a daughter of Diaz, is the wife of Maurice Ortega Murillo, son of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.
During the 2018 repression, the Police dismantled the protests supported by paramilitary structures and shooting to kill the protesters. According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), 355 people were assassinated that year for political reasons.
“Marenco’s fall from grace is part of the decomposition experienced by the Police, which put the interests of the Ortega Murillo family before the duties established by its regulations, laws and the Political Constitution of Nicaragua,” says the source.
Marenco was not only the head of the Police Intelligence Directorate, but also served as a political commissioner in this institution.
The Nicaraguan media have reported a silent defection in the police ranks, many of whose members are leaving for the United States. In February 2022, the Dispatch 505 newsletter recorded that 17 police officers from the Madriz department had abandoned their uniform that year and another 17 had done so in 2018 in that same department.
The newspaper La Prensa reported this week that General Commissioner Pedro Rodríguez Argueta, police chief of the Triángulo Minero and Mulukukú, was also arrested, without knowing if the arrests of Marenco and Rodríguez are related.