A Nicaraguan court sentenced 18 Mexicans to 30 years in prison for drug trafficking after they tried to enter the country in fake television news vans filled with $9.2 million in cash.
The group was given the maximum jail sentence a month after being found guilty of drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime.
Nicaraguan authorities have hailed the arrest as a major coup against Mexican drug gangs that use Central America as a transit point for narcotics heading to the United States.
The Mexicans crossed the Honduras-Nicaragua border on August 20 in six vans with the logo of Mexican media giant Televisa. The world's biggest Spanish-language network denied any links to the group.
Authorities say the gang pretended to be Televisa journalists and technicians in order to bring money into Nicaragua and return north with drugs.
The only woman in the group, Raquel Alatorre, entered the courtroom in tears before the judge in Managua sentenced her to 35 years in prison. Her jail term was reduced to the maximum 30 years allowed under the law. Authorities say she was one of the group's two leaders.
A lawyer for the Mexicans, Ramon Rojas, told reporters they would appeal the sentence, saying it was "very disproportionate."