The Colombian Navy captured four Costa Ricans allegedly attempting to smuggle a ton of cocaine near San Andres island in the Caribbean, pointing to Costa Rican groups' growing role in the drug trade.
On July 14, the navy detained four Costa Rican citizens who were transporting 81 packets of cocaine, estimated to come to one ton, in a motorboat. The boat was spotted by a Colombian naval helicopter while traveling toward Central America.
Colombian Admiral Roberto Garcia Marquez told El Colombiano that San Andres had always been an "area of convergence" for traffickers. The groups use it as place to resupply and to collect drugs, which are then taken toward the Gulf of Mexico, the United States or Central America. The admiral also reported that the Colombian navy had established a new coast guard station in the archipelago to help combat drug trafficking.
InSight Crime Analysis
Costa Rica has increasingly been used by the drug trade in recent years. One factor that has driven up the transport of drugs through the country, according to Costa Rican authorities, is Panama's crackdown on maritime trafficking in its waters, forcing drug traffickers to transport their product overland through Costa Rica. The country is thought to act as a meeting place for Colombian and Mexican gangs to hand drugs over to one another.
In February, Costa Rican police made their largest cocaine seizure since 2006, confiscating 2 tons of cocaine from two boats off the Pacific coast. The authorities arrested several Costa Rican and Colombian men who were operating the boats.
It is unclear whether the Costa Ricans arrested near San Andres were acting independently or working for a major regional trafficking organization. However, the February arrests, as well as the recent capture, suggest that Costa Ricans are no longer simply playing the role of facilitators for foreign drug organizations, but may be actively participating in the trade.