Former FBI agent: Former Seattle man locked up on a lie in Nicaragua

Former FBI agent: Former Seattle man locked up on a lie in Nicaragua »Play Video
Jason Puracal is seen in this photo.
SEATTLE -- It's been seven months now since Jason Puracal was first locked up in a Nicaraguan prison to await trial on charges of money laundering and drug trafficking.

Puracal's family calls the charges bogus.

"I'm not going to let my brother sit and rot in prison for 30 years, especially in a Nicaraguan prison," said sister Janis Puracal.

Janis is on a mission to free her brother, but she's running out of time.

"His trial date is scheduled for Aug. 9. That's coming up really quickly," she said.

If convicted, he could spend the next three decades inside a dark, cramped cell thousands of miles away. And Janis may never see him again.

A graduate of the University of Washington, Jason moved to Nicaragua nine years ago and started working in real estate. Last November, Nicaraguan police arrested him along with 10 other men, and charged them with drug trafficking.

Former FBI agent Steve Moore says those charges are trumped up.

"I have no idea why Jason is in jail right now," said Moore. "It is certainly not based on any credible evidence."

Moore heard about Jason's case a month ago and decided to review it on his own.

"I kept going through page after page, wondering when I would find the thing," he said.

Nicaraguan authorities say Puracal transferred large amounts of money between several bank accounts -- evidence, they say, that shows he is a drug trafficker.

"Or he might be a real estate broker, which he was," Moore said. "This guy needs some help from the American government."

Nicaraguan prosecutors also claim the Drug Enforcement Administration tipped them off about Jason. But a letter obtained by KOMO News from the Department of Justice states the DEA is not involved at all.


A recent photo of Jason Puracal, left, shows his weight loss in prison in comparison to his prior size, seen right.
Meanwhile, Janis says her brother is wasting away behind bars.

"He's probably about 40 pounds lighter," she said of his weight loss since being jailed.

Her congressman, Adam Smith, D-Wash., is now asking the U.S. State Department to intervene before it's too late.

"We are just frantic at this point," said Janis.

Janis is afraid her brother will not get a fair trial. She says the judge appointed to hear Jason's case is the 29-year-old nephew of Nicaragua's Supreme Court magistrate.

She says the State Department has so far refused to help; they have not returned her calls.