HomeNewsBrief‘Costa Rica Exporting Cocaine to 4 Continents’
BRIEF

‘Costa Rica Exporting Cocaine to 4 Continents’

COSTA RICA / 2 JAN 2013 BY CLAIRE O NEILL MCCLESKEY EN

Criminal groups are reportedly using Costa Rica to export cocaine shipments to dozens of destinations across the globe, raising new questions about the country’s vulnerability to organized crime. 

According to an internal report by Costa Rica’s narcotics police, viewed by Mexican newspaper El Universal, in the past several years shipments of Colombian cocaine have been exported from Costa Rica to 39 different destinations on four continents. The countries receiving drug shipments from Costa Rica included China, Iran, South Africa, Latvia, and many islands of Oceania. 

The report is the latest indication of Costa Rica’s rising position as a distribution point for international drug shipments. Authorities have noted that increased amounts of cocaine are being found inside the country, with 15.5 tons of the drug seized in 2012, up from 9.2 tons the previous year.

Costa Rica’s anti-narcotics police have said they dismantled over 100 drug trafficking organizations in 2012, but most of these were local distribution networks: only 12 were international drug smuggling rings. 

The Sinaloa Cartel, La Familia Michoacana, and the Gulf Cartel are all believed to have representatives in Costa Rica, although there have been reports that the Zetas also have a presence.

InSight Crime Analysis

Previously, Costa Rica served as a meeting point for Colombian and Mexican cartels to seal deals on the transport of cocaine to the principal market of North America. Now, however, evidence suggests that Costa Rica has moved beyond serving as a “midway point” for drug trafficking organizations moving product north, and is now functioning as a strategic center and base of operations for criminal groups. Mexican transnational criminal groups, with the Sinaloa Cartel at the head of the pack, have established relationships with local partners to expand their drug smuggling and money laundering operations within the country.

[Read InSight Crime’s special report by security analyst Michael Porth on organized crime in Costa Rica, including Parts I, II, and III.]

President Laura Chinchilla, who took office in May 2010, has been vocal about the threat posed to Costa Rica by drug trafficking. However, her administration – currently struggling with low approval ratings – has yet to make any significant headway against organized crime.

In addition to the increase in cocaine seizures, one particularly alarming development is the vulnerability of state institutions to criminal infiltration. Costa Rica, Latin America’s oldest democracy, had previously enjoyed a reputation for robust democratic institutions, but the past year saw several cases of drug-related corruption among police and judicial officials.

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.

Tags

Related Content

COSTA RICA / 3 FEB 2012

Costa Rica's authorities confiscated two tons of cocaine from two boats off the Pacific coast, in the country's biggest cocaine…

BARRIO 18 / 26 APR 2019

The variety of extortionists in Central America speaks to the ease with which opportunists can set up their own schemes.

COSTA RICA / 5 DEC 2019

Prosecutors in Costa Rica are investigating a suspected organ trafficking ring at a hospital in the country’s capital -- the…

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…