Appeals have been filed by attorneys representing 18 Mexicans who posed as Televisa journalists and were convicted on drug charges in Nicaragua, judicial officials said Thursday.

The Mexicans, who were arrested last summer in Nicaragua while carrying $9.2 million in cash, are appealing the 30-year prison sentences and fines imposed on them.

The appeals were filed on Wednesday in Managua by a legal team led by attorney Ramon Rojas, the judicial press office told Efe.

La defensa hizo una solicitud de anulación del fallo o, en su defecto, la reducción de las penas y devolución de lo incautado.

The group, led by Raquel Alatorre Correa, were found guilty of drug trafficking, money laundering and participating in organized crime by a court in December.

Judge Edgard Altamirano handed down the maximum 30-year prison sentences to the Mexicans on Jan. 18.

The Mexicans were arrested on Aug. 20, 2012, at a checkpoint near Nicaragua's border with Honduras while posing as Televisa reporters.

Police found the cash and traces of cocaine in the six SUVs being used by the Mexicans, who prosecutors said were posing as journalists to hide their illegal activities.

The vehicles being used by the Mexicans had Televisa emblems on them and were equipped to make international transmissions.

The Mexicans' defense attorneys contend in their appeal that the evidence presented to Judge Altamirano was insufficient to prove guilt, judicial officials said.

The case garnered broad coverage in Mexico because the group was carrying letters of accreditation allegedly signed by Televisa vice president for national reporting Amador Narcia.

Narcia owned a cell phone that received calls from Alatorre Correa, investigators said.

Televisa asked Nicaragua to investigate the links between the group and Narcia, but authorities in the Central American country have not yet determined whether the signatures are authentic. EFE