HomeNewsBriefCosta Rica Busts Drug Trafficking Ring
BRIEF

Costa Rica Busts Drug Trafficking Ring

COSTA RICA / 12 FEB 2015 BY KYRA GURNEY EN

The recent bust of a cocaine trafficking ring in Costa Rica highlights how smaller, independent operators are moving into the transnational drug trade, as the Central American country remains an important transit hub for cocaine moving northwards. 

On February 11, Costa Rican anti-drug police arrested eight members of a drug trafficking and money laundering ring, reported La Nacion. Seven of those detained were Costa Rican nationals and the eighth was a Nicaraguan citizen, reported AFP. The group's leader -- a semi-truck driver whose last name is Fonseca Vega -- was among those arrested.

Investigations revealed that the group received cocaine shipments from Panama and Colombia, hid the drugs in special compartments built into semi-trucks, and transported them to Honduras and Guatemala. The vehicles then returned to Costa Rica carrying cash.

During the course of the investigation, which began in August 2013, police seized 767 kilos of cocaine and $440,000 in cash. Seven other members of the organization, including six drivers and one individual who helped move the cash shipments, were arrested in previous operations.  

InSight Crime Analysis

This bust highlights how small-scale, independent drug trafficking organizations have increased space to operate in Central America. As many of the big drug cartels have been weakened by law enforcement operations and internal conflict, more opportunities are opening up for smaller groups to participate in the transnational drug trade. This is a phenomenon that has been seen in Mexico, where the larger cartels have splintered and smaller groups now control some aspects of drug production and transport. Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala are also home to independent transport groups -- known as "transportistas" -- who do not appear to be allied to one particular drug cartel.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Costa Rica

These recent arrests in Costa Rica are also indicative of growing local involvement in the drug trade as the country's importance as a cocaine transit nation increases. Between 2006 and 2010, the number of local drug trafficking groups dismantled by Costa Rican authorities increased from 47 to 104, and in 2013 authorities detained members of what was reportedly the country's first transnational drug trafficking organization. Last year, Costa Rica seized around 4.1 tons of cocaine in three separate operations -- the largest haul in the country's history -- on Costa Rican fishing boats.

share icon icon icon

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

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.

Tags

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

COCAINE / 17 MAR 2020

The container of ornamental plants had passed through customs at Costa Rica's port of Limón and was awaiting transfer to…

COLOMBIA / 17 DEC 2013

A plane has been captured in Costa Rica with over one ton of cocaine originating in Colombia, casting doubt on…

COSTA RICA / 26 MAY 2011

In less than a week Costa Rica's Police confiscated 938 kilos of cocaine, which is about a tenth of the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…