HomeNewsBriefDrug Bust Points to Evolving Criminal Structures in Costa Rica
BRIEF

Drug Bust Points to Evolving Criminal Structures in Costa Rica

COSTA RICA / 10 NOV 2016 BY TRISTAN CLAVEL EN

A drug trafficking network linked to Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel has been dismantled in Costa Rica, a sign that the country's criminal structures are becoming increasingly involved in transnational drug trafficking.

A two-year investigation culminated in the arrest of 14 individuals across the country on November 9, including the alleged leader of the trafficking ring, García Carillo, alias "Negro," reported La Nación

Following the discovery of 374 kilos of cocaine in 2014, authorities have targeted the structure and have succeeded in apprehending an additional 10 individuals, reported La Prensa Libre. Police seized a total of 3 tons of drugs and $1.7 million over the course of the investigation.

The group reportedly operated by importing drugs from Ecuador and Colombia, which it received on both the Pacific and the Caribbean coasts, before shipping the product north to Mexico by land, air or sea. The organization was reportedly associated with the Sinaloa Cartel.

Authorities said the group's operations were facilitated by a number of different assets, including properties across the country as well boats and clandestine air strips.

Following the seizures, a spokesperson for the Public Security Ministry said that this was the first dismantling of "a criminal structure which managed all aspects of drug trafficking from Costa Rica," according to El Nacional.

InSight Crime Analysis

While Costa Rica has long been a transshipment point for cocaine being moved north to the United States, the recently dismantled structure could signal that some local groups are becoming important actors in the transnational drug trade. Previous drug busts have revealed that independent operators in Costa Rica are now less dependent on foreign cartels, and have also coordinated shipments to the more lucrative European drug markets.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Costa Rica

Behind this shift is the fragmentation of the traditional transnational trafficking groups operating in Latin America. Colombian cartels were once the main foreign influence in Costa Rica's underworld, but they have long since been broken up. Mexican groups have since filled that void by expanding their presence in the Central American nation. In recent years, however, Mexican cartels have experienced a splintering similar to that of their Colombian predecessors, which appears to be providing the space for local groups to take on a bigger role in Costa Rica's illicit drug trade. 

As a result, whether or not Costa Rica's drug trafficking organizations continue to evolve may have as much to do with the criminal dynamics in Mexico as with efforts by Costa Rican authorities to dismantle these homegrown structures. 

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

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 11 JUN 2021

Over seven million rounds of ammunition were stolen by an unknown armed group in central Mexico this week, a record-breaking…

EL MENCHO / 25 MAY 2022

The CJNG’s reign as Mexico’s most dominant and ruthless cartel may be showing some signs of wear.

DISPLACEMENT / 31 MAY 2021

The Catholic Church has played a central role in negotiating peace between Mexican drug cartels. But religious leaders in Michoacán…

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…