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Jason Puracal Still Fighting 22-Year Drug Sentence

Tacoma resident Jason Puracal says his fight against the Nicaraguan justice system is still not over. Puracal was recently exonerated of drug charges in Nicaragua and returned to the Northwest. Now, Nicaraguan prosecutors are appealing his case to that country’s high court.

Jason Puracal arrived in Nicaragua about a decade ago as a Peace Corps volunteer. He left there last month from a maximum security prison. He was serving a 22-year sentence following a conviction for drug trafficking and money laundering. He was freed in September after winning an appeal.

Now, Puracal says he’s trying to wrap his head around what could happen if the prosecution wins their appeal to the Nicaraguan Supreme Court.

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“Then they would reinstate the 22-year sentence,” Puracal says. “They would then, I think, put out a warrant for my arrest [and] seize any properties. You know, I don’t know if they would then contact Interpol and try to do an expedition warrant. I don’t think the US government would extradite me – at least I’m hoping not. But obviously it’s a huge weight on my shoulders.”

That weight may hang around for a while. Puracal’s attorney tells him it could take the Nicaraguan Supreme Court years to take up the case.

Puracal categorically denies the drug charges. He says he’s building a new life in the Northwest with his Nicaraguan wife and young son and he's getting ready to start an MBA program on Bainbridge Island.

Law professors at Seattle University have taken up his cause and are putting together a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, asking them to step in and help resolve his case.

Year started with KUOW: 2006