A former Foss High School honor student found guilty of drug and money laundering by a Nicaraguan court last month was sentenced Tuesday to 22 years in prison.
The judge gave Jason Puracal, 33, seven years for money laundering, 10 years for international transport of drugs and five years for participating in organized crime.
The Nicaraguan National Police arrested Puracal on Nov. 11 at his office in San Juan del Sur. He was arrested along with 10 Nicaraguan nationals. Prosecutors alleged he was an “adviser” to people involved in drug trafficking who were investing in real estate.
Puracal was convicted after a six-day trial and faced from 23 to 30 years in prison.
His family continues to insist he is innocent. They say the charges against him were politically motivated and the trial was unfair.
“The trial process was replete with violations of Nicaraguan law and failed to meet even minimum standards of due process and fairness,” Anna Tolin, one of Puracal’s attorneys, said after the sentence was announced.
Puracal’s arrest and conviction have drawn international attention. U.S. Rep Adam Smith, D-Tacoma, has spoken out in Puracal’s behalf and criticized the Nicaraguan justice system.
A sentencing document issued Tuesday by the Nicaraguan court states Puracal used his real estate brokerage to launder drug money.
Puracal and his family are appealing.
They believe his arrest and conviction were due in part to a misunderstanding of the escrow process in real estate, in which large sums of money are held in trust for buyers and sellers of land.
After graduating from the University of Washington, Puracal joined the Peace Corps in 2002 and later became a real estate broker in Nicaragua.
ROB CARSON; STAFF WRITER
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