HomeNewsBriefCosta Rica AG Says Mexico Cartels are Recruiting, Training Local Groups
BRIEF

Costa Rica AG Says Mexico Cartels are Recruiting, Training Local Groups

COSTA RICA / 13 FEB 2017 BY LEONARDO GOI EN

Costa Rica’s Attorney General said local criminal groups are being recruited and trained by Mexican drug cartels, further indication of the evolving relationship between drug trafficking networks in these two countries.

In an interview with El Universal, Costa Rican Attorney General Jorge Chavarría said that the cartels are recruiting local criminals and bringing them to Mexico, where they are taught cartel strategies in order to apply them back home. 

While Chavarría did not specify which cartels are doing the recruiting, anti-drug authorities have confirmed that the Sinaloa Cartel and the Zetas are the most active drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) in Central America, according to El Universal. The Familia Michoacana and the Gulf Cartel also reportedly maintain a presence in the region. 

Chavarría credited Costa Rica’s rising homicide rate to the Mexicanization of Costa Rica’s criminal groups.   

“We have an increase in violence because local drug trafficking organizations are applying the Mexican strategy of controlling territory,” he said. 

The attorney general also noted the role of Mexican cartels in driving up the consumer demand for cocaine in drug transit nations such as Costa Rica. 

“We have seen an ample expansion [in demand]… The demand is not just in the United States and Europe; there is an internal demand in all the countries in the region, which is obviously growing due to the increasing amount [of drugs] on offer, because collaboration for trafficking drugs to the United States is paid in drugs and not in dollars.”

InSight Crime Analysis

While Costa Rica has long been a crucial transit zone for Mexican cartels looking to move cocaine to the United States, the recruiting and training of local gangs is a sign that a new power dynamic is emerging in the country’s underworld. 

Mexico’s cartels have fragmented due to increased security pressure, which is enabling Costa Rican groups to step into a bigger role in the transnational drug trade. In November 2016, a local drug trafficking network linked to the Sinaloa Cartel was dismantled by Costa Rica’s anti-narcotics police. The operation led to the arrest of 14 individuals, as well as the seizure of three tons of drugs and $1.7 million.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Costa Rica

Another factor strengthening Costa Rica’s criminal groups is the increase in local drug consumption mentioned by Chavarría. Higher rates of cocaine use increase the profits for local drug trafficking groups, which in turn generates greater competition and the need for higher-power weaponry. Chavarría has previously noted that Mexican groups are arming Costa Rican gangs with AK-47s and grenades. 

Costa Rica’s underworld was historically under the influence of Colombian DTOs, but Mexican groups became the dominant foreign power following the fall of the Medellín and Cali cartels. 

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

COSTA RICA / 19 MAY 2011

Costa Rica’s President, Laura Chinchilla, said Central American governments should increase co-operation to combat the penetration of the drug trade…

EL CHAPO / 18 DEC 2011

Testimony by a former Sinaloa Cartel operative provides details on the murky dealings between US authorities and their contacts in…

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 1 OCT 2015

Mexico has extradited two alleged drug lords and nearly a dozen other suspected drug traffickers to the United States, a…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…