HomeNewsCosta Rica's Limón Province Becomes Murder and Drug Trafficking Center

Costa Rica's Limón Province Becomes Murder and Drug Trafficking Center


Costa Rica’s Limón Province is currently the country’s homicide capital as surging cocaine flows have renewed fighting for its port, a major point of departure for drugs out of the country. 

On May 19, around 150 police officers were deployed in Puerto Limón - the province's capital - to maintain order and protect the local population. This came two days after a well-known crime boss in the area, Ronny Dobrovsky Rojas, was gunned down while dropping his daughter off at school in the center of the city.

Dobrovsky Rojas' murder has raised the total number of killings in Limón, which is located on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast, to 54 this year. Up to 90 percent are due to clashes between organized crime groups, reported news outlet La Nación, citing a press conference by the Judicial Investigation Department (Organismo de Investigación Judicial – OIJ.)

SEE ALSO: 4 Security Challenges in Store for Costa Rica’s Next President

So far in 2022, Limón accounts for nearly one quarter of all murders nationwide and suffers from a homicide rate triple the national average, according to OIJ Director General Walter Espinoza, speaking at a press conference last week.

A principal cause of that violence is Limón’s container port of Moín, which is struggling to stop cocaine flows. Most recently, on May 19, authorities seized 37 bricks of cocaine destined for the United Kingdom. Moín continues to be the main cocaine trafficking hub in Costa Rica and one of the largest in Central America.

InSight Crime Analysis

Homicides in both Costa Rica and Limón peaked in 2017, yet violence nonetheless remains high, with sporadic flashes illuminating an increasingly entrenched security crisis in which microtrafficking and mid-level distribution groups compete for drug rents.

Dobrovsky Rojas was an archetype of the problems Limón has faced. He was first investigated in 2013 after being caught with over $200,000 worth of suspected drug money, before being arrested in 2017 for supposedly leading a local gang that smuggled cocaine and marijuana by boat from Jamaica.

His group was also accused of murdering five people and trafficking firearms, whose accessibility has long been a factor in Limón’s homicide problem. However, Dobrovsky Rojas was only placed under house arrest, which was then commuted to biweekly court sign-ins earlier this year.

SEE ALSO: Costa Rica’s Devil – Bloody Drug Fleud Catches Authorities Off Guard

It remains unclear whether his assassination is connected to the broader gang conflict in Limón, between the rival Diablo and Pechuga groups. With over 150 killed over five years, the feud has been a major factor driving violence and supposed Diablo gang members continue to be detained in the province for drug trafficking.

While cracking down on visible criminal groups is an essential component to re-establishing security in Limón, authorities must also address structural issues underlying the crisis, including the rampant poverty and unemployment that allows gangs to recruit with ease.

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.


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.


Related Content

BRAZIL / 12 JUL 2022

Sergio Roberto de Carvalho, or Brazil's Pablo Escobar, has finally been brought down. Several countries want to have the privilege…

BRAZIL / 7 OCT 2022

Latin America's environmental and land protectors are routinely murdered by the regions criminals.

COCAINE / 3 OCT 2022

Colombia's region of Catatumbo and Venezuela's state of Zulia jointly form one of the world's busiest cocaine corridors.

About InSight Crime


Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…


Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…


Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…


Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…


InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…