Nicaraguan Drug Lord Caught and Sentenced in Costa Rica

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    Three Tarzanes members were sentenced this week by Limón court for smuggling cocaine from Colombia to Costa Rica.

    The trio which, was arrested last year, included the group’s head leader, Agustin Reyes Aragon, along with members Oscar Zelaya and Elias Araya Herrera Hernández. The criminal court of Limón sentenced each on Wednesday to 12 years in prison. Wiretapping played a heavy role in their prosecution.

    Who are the Tarzanes?

    The Tarzanes are a Nicaraguan trafficking organization that are responsible for smuggling over 700 kilos of cocaine into Costa Rica using speed boats. They also are said to have brought Jamaican marijuana into Limón for storage, among other contraband items.

    The Tarzanes’ origins go back to the mid-90s when they were considered part of the same network that included the now disbanded Norte del Valle Cartel from Colombia. Despite using San Juan as their homebase, increased security patrols in Nicaragua pressured the organization to relocate the bulk of their operations to Costa Rica around 2012.

    What effect will the sentence have?

    According to InSight Crime, one of Reyes Aragon’s six brothers likely took over his position after the 2014 arrests. The inaccessibility of Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast make the Tarzanes a difficult group to track, especially since they are notoriously skilled navigators of the rivers, estuaries and the sea. Nevertheless, additional charges are reported to be waiting for Reyes Aragon in Nicaragua upon his release from Costa Rica.

    There is no doubt that drug-related crime is on the rise in Costa Rica. The recent shootings in Pozos, Santa Ana only confirm the situation. That said, violence so far has been limited to those involved in narcotrafficking. Furthermore, law enforcement is taking the matter very seriously.

    Of course, the question must be raised whether or not we can rely on law enforcement to act with integrity and resist succumbing to bribery. At this point it seems the answer is yes. Transparency International, the global coalition against corruption, has ranked Costa Rica as the most honest country in Central America.

    Trafficking groups may find refuge for now, but they shouldn’t get too comfortable. Costa Rica is bringing the law.

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