Costa Rica has the best economic and social indices of Central America: life expectancy of 79.4 years, per capita income of U.S. $ 10,863 and an average of only 8.9 homicides per 100,000 people (that of Honduras is ten times higher).
But Costa Rica faces a serious problem: the drug trade is trying hard to penetrate their territory.
This has been recognized at the highest level. “Our geography makes us a prisoner,” said the Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla in March, quoted by the Wall Street Journal , referring to how her country is used as a trasit point for drugs coming north.
A month later, in a study forum Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, the special prosecutor for drug trafficking in Costa Rica, Walter Espinoza, revealed that Costa Rica was becoming a base of operations for drug lords.
“We are filled with members from Mexican and Colombian organizations members,” he said.
Two months after her brief statement to the Wall Street Journal, the president of Costa Rica experienced firsthand how the drug had entered in her country: she had to go on national television to defend against the charge that, at least twice, used a plane owned by a drug kingpin to make state visits abroad.
Several heads rolled for that scandal, including the Minister of Communication, Vice Minister of the Presidency, the head of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security, and the president’s personal assistant.
This is not the only prominent case in recent times. A few days ago, the U.S. court said that the biggest money laundering operation in the history of the performing, from Costa Rica, the company Liberty Reserve, owned by a Ukrainian citizen Rica.
And there is the case of the man accused of murder in Guatemala, Argentine singer Facundo Cabral. This is the Costa Rican Alejandro Jose Jimenez Gonzalez, alias “El Palidejo”, reported to be a link between the Sinaloa cartel and the Colombian criminal group “The Stubble” (from the new generation of drug traffickers in that country).
Various media have reported that Jimenez Gonzalez wanted to kill the Nicaraguan businessman Henry Fariñas, who had hired the Argentinian artist. Farinas was wounded in the attack. Cabral, as we know, died.
These cases might suggest that the phenomenon is new. Not so. In its report “Costa Rica in the Crosshairs “published in December 2011, security analyst Michael Porth indicates that this situation arises from the early 80s.
“However, recent reports and intelligence reports show that, in recent years, transnational crime (especially drug trafficking and money laundering) in the country is evolving and becoming more sophisticated.”
The first big leap was made in 1986. That year, authorities warned an unprecedented increase in drug seizures: from 30 to 40 kilos per year is spent at 600.
Since then, despite the efforts of the different Costa Rican governments, the problem has increased.
According to the site Insight Crime , as trafficking routes have moved from the Caribbean to Central America, Costa Rica has gained increasing importance as a drug transshipment point.
The main transfer point is the Limón province, an area of National Park sifted channel, located on the Caribbean Sea, on the border with Nicaragua.
But there is a new phenomenon: transshipment point addition, Costa Rica has been becoming a drug storage point.
In a report published in January this year by the Mexican newspaper El Universal reports that “shipments of cocaine produced in Colombia and moved to Costa Rica by land, air and sea, via Panama, were forwarded from Costa Rican territory in recent years as far away as China, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Latvia and Tonga “.
Overall, says the report quoting a document from the Police Drug Enforcement Costa Rica-were 39 destinations in America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania.
They also indicated that, between 2011 and 2012, nearly doubled cocaine seizures, from 9.2 tons to 15.5.
Almost all of the reports speak of the Sinaloa Cartel, but has also been reported the presence of the Gulf Cartel, La Familia Michoacana and more recently of Los Zetas, who also have activities in the rest of Central America.
The Costa Rican newspaper La Nacion was one of the first that during the 80s, denounced the drug growing operations in that country.
Carlos Arguedas, a veteran journalist blogger during the past fourteen years has followed the thread to decant the drug cartels by their country.
Arguedas has seen how, at least in the last five years, Costa Rica has become drug storage location.
It has also seen something else: how, in recent times, an increasing number of Mexican drug lords-or high-ranking cartels like Sinaloa that have gone to live in Costa Rica to operate from there.
“They themselves are taking care of the transfer. Before it left the Colombians. One thing that has changed is that. Lots Mexican who at least has been to oversee the transfer of the drugs from Panama”.
At the forum in the study center Woodrow Wilson, the prosecutor Walter Espinoza acknowledged that they are now seeing acts of violence that were unprecedented in their country.
Now there are “decapitated, dismembered people, burned,” he said. He added that of the 474 violent murders recorded in 2012, at least 100 were related to organized crime.
As we all know countries like Colombia and Mexico, the price to pay is not only measured in number of deaths or tons of cocaine. It also measures in profound, sometimes irreparable, tears the social fabric. Based on a report by BBC
The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
San Jose Costa Rica