HomeNewsBriefViolence in Costa Rica Reaching 'Pandemic' Levels?
BRIEF

Violence in Costa Rica Reaching 'Pandemic' Levels?

COSTA RICA / 24 SEP 2015 BY ARRON DAUGHERTY EN

Authorities in Costa Rica are expecting "pandemic" levels of violence this year, even as battles between local criminal groups for control of the country's drug trade intensify. 

According to Costa Rica's Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ by its Spanish initials), the country is on track to reach 533 homicides by December, reported Diario Extra. This would be a significant increase from the 471 homicides Costa Rican authorities registered in 2014 and more than a 30 percent jump from the 407 murders in 2012 and 2013.

Costa Rica's 2015 homicide forecast pales in comparison to the skyrocketing violence facing Central America's  Northern Triangle region (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras). But the uptick in violence has reportedly pushed Costa Rica's murder rate past 10 per 100,000 inhabitants, a level the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified as reaching a "pandemic." 

Authorities estimate that 45 percent of the roughly 400 murders so far this year are related to drugs and organized crime. OIJ Deputy Director Luis Avila identified four neighborhoods within capital San Jose where some 77 murders have been registered this year as a result of score-settling between drug gangs, reported Diario Extra. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The possibility that Costa Rica -- once considered the "Switzerland of Central America" -- might reach "pandemic" levels of violence is a reflection of the country's changing criminal dynamics. 

There are indications that Costa Rica has become an increasingly important transshipment point for cocaine heading northward,  to such an extent that authorities say the country has been "colonized" by Mexican drug cartels. Officials also warn Mexican cartels have begun arming local drug gangs with high-powered weapons like AK-47s. This increased firepower and contact with transnational drug trafficking organizations has likely facilitated the rise of drug-related violence in Costa Rica.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Costa Rica 

However, authorities in Costa Rica have so far opted against the militarized policing strategies that governments in the Northern Triangle have turned to in order to combat rising violence.  According to Diario Extra, former Costa Rica Security Minister Celso Gamboa prioritizes drug education and treatment over an increased police presence. Meanwhile current Security Minister Gustavo Mata has focused on improving the country's judicial system by calling for a special unit to investigate drug and organized crime-related murders. 

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.

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

CARIBBEAN / 9 JUL 2021

Two days on from the nighttime assassination of Haiti President Jovenel Moïse in Port-au-Prince, competing theories have failed to provide…

HOMICIDES / 1 MAY 2021

Mexico has once again dominated a list of the most violent cities in the world but smaller towns have now…

ECUADOR / 19 AUG 2022

Two subjects on a motorcycle attacked prosecutor Federico Estrella outside his home in Babahoyo, Los Ríos, on August 15. Estrella…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…