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. 

share 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.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

JUAREZ CARTEL / 10 DEC 2012

The DEA has released the results of a two-year-long investigation into the international connections of Mexico's…

HUMAN SMUGGLING / 25 MAY 2011

Three employees of an Arizona sheriff have been arrested on charges of working with Mexican drug traffickers, and…

ARGENTINA / 8 DEC 2020

New details have emerged about the sophisticated criminal operations of a Red Command leader who once operated in the Argentina-Brazil…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Combating Environmental Crime in Colombia

15 JUN 2021

InSight Crime presented findings from an investigation into the main criminal activities fueling environmental destruction in Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Collaborating on Citizen Security Initiatives

8 JUN 2021

Co-director Steven Dudley worked with Chemonics, a DC-based development firm, to analyze the organization’s citizen security programs in Mexico.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Deepens Its Connections with Universities

31 MAY 2021

A partnership with the University for Peace will complement InSight Crime’s research methodology and expertise on Costa Rica.

THE ORGANIZATION

With Support from USAID, InSight Crime Will Investigate Organized Crime in Haiti

31 MAY 2021

The project will seek to map out Haiti's principal criminal economies, profile the specific groups and actors, and detail their links to elements of the state.

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.