HomeNewsBriefCosta Rica Local Drug Consumption Fueling Rising Murder Rate
BRIEF

Costa Rica Local Drug Consumption Fueling Rising Murder Rate

COSTA RICA / 20 JUL 2017 BY CLAIRE DENNIS EN

An increase in domestic drug sales and consumption in Costa Rica appears to be fueling rising homicides, but authorities have tended to blame foreign crime groups rather than focusing on internal factors behind increasing violence.

Attorney General Jorge Chavarría recently blamed spikes in homicide rates in the last few years on the “Mexicanization” of Costa Rican criminal groups, claiming that local drug trafficking bands are emulating the turf wars of Mexican cartels and driving up the murder rate.

“Local organizations are expanding under supply pressure to spread the market, which leads to a monopoly tendency in the application of violence — the Mexican recipe — where each local organization has its armed branch and tries to eliminate competition,” Chavarría told CRHoy.

The attorney general has previously warned that Mexican crime groups are recruiting and training local gangs in Costa Rica.

According to Chavarría, clashes between rivals fighting for control of international trafficking routes is the reason last year saw an all-time high of 11.8 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. However, a high proportion of murders are suspected to be linked to territorial battles between local drug groups; in 2015, the fraction was an estimated 70 percent of the 570 total murders recorded that year.

InSight Crime Analysis

According to Walter Espinoza, the Director of the Investigative Judicial Agency, the Costa Rican government should continue to focus on a transnational approach to combating crime, working with police chiefs of Central America and other international actors. While this is an important element of the fight against organized crime, any strategy seeking to reduce violence in Costa Rica should also concentrate on the criminal dynamics of the local drug trade.

Historically, Costa Rica has been a key transit port for international traffickers due to its strategic geographic location, but today more drugs are staying in the country, with more Costa Ricans consuming cocaine and marijuana than ever before. According to the Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Institute (Instituto sobre Alcoholismo y Farmacodependencia – IAFA) consumption of cocaine increased fourfold between 2006 and 2010, surpassing the Central American average. Marijuana usage increased 260 percent during the same period, reported IAFA.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Costa Rica

It is likely that this expanding local market — driven in part by booming cocaine production in Colombia and other factors — has incentivized intense competition for market control among Costa Rican crime groups. Addressing this dynamic will be key to slowing and eventually reversing the alarming rise in violence seen in the Central American country in recent years.

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

ARGENTINA / 16 JUL 2013

The drug trade in northern Argentina has left more than a thousand dead in nine years, according to a…

HOMICIDES / 30 DEC 2013

In an unsolicited response to what is a typical portrayal of violence in Mexico, Mexican security researcher, analyst and professor…

CARIBBEAN / 17 FEB 2012

A new UN report paints an alarming picture of the crime surge in the Caribbean, a trend that may escalate…

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…