A raid carried out during the PCD operation

Authorities in Costa Rica have dismantled a Colombia to Belgium cocaine trafficking network allegedly formed and run by Costa Rican nationals, indicating local crime is stepping up its role in trafficking as the international drug trade takes root in the country.

Costa Rica's Drug Control Police (PCD) arrested 12 Costa Ricans, including the group's alleged leader, on the Caribbean Coast and near the capital, San Jose, on December 17. Days earlier, Belgian authorities arrested a French person accused of involvement in the operation, reported La Nacion. Two Bank of Costa Rica (BCR) employees and two police accused of assisting operations were also arrested, reported El Guardian.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Costa Rica

Authorities said the group, which was discovered two years ago, sent fishing boats off the coast of Limon to receive Colombian drug shipments. They then disguised the drugs among legal goods that were shipped to Belgium. The ring was allegedly responsible for 28.5 kilos of cocaine seized in Belgium in November 2011, as well as over a ton of cocaine caught off the Limon coast in May this year. 

The proceeds were passed to their BCR connections, which helped to launder nearly $200,000 in drug trafficking funds, police say.

Attorney General Jorge Chavarria called the group "the most important that has been dismantled here in history."

InSight Crime Analysis

Costa Rica has risen to become a major transport hub in recent years, as evidenced by rising cocaine seizures -- 17.5 tons this year, compared with 15.5 in 2012 and 7.4 in 2011. Concurrently, various foreign groups have set up shop in Costa Ricaamong them Mexico's Knights Templar and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

There are signs the domestic drug trade is growing with this transnational presence, indicated by a high percentage of drug-related arrests this year, and a rising homicide rate. Costa Ricans have also been arrested for assisting Mexican cartels, showing they are involved in the transnational aspect of the trade.

The latest case indicates Costa Ricans have moved their involvement in the international cocaine trade to the next level. It provides a clear example of a Costa Rican led and financed network purchasing cocaine directly from suppliers and transporting it to one of the world's main consumer markets.  

The fact Belgium was the destination is also significant -- Latin American drug traffickers are increasingly tapping into the European cocaine market, and while Spain has traditionally been the main port of entry, Belgium's has been noted as a progressively more important portal.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

As Guatemala's Congress gears up to select new Supreme Court Justices and appellate court judges, InSight Crime is investigating how organized crime influences the selection process. This story details the interests of one particular political bloc vying for control over the courts and what's at stake: millions of ...

The Victory of the Urabeños - The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

The Victory of the Urabeños - The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

The mad scramble for criminal power in the aftermath of the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is over. The Urabeños, or as they prefer to call themselves, the "Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia," have won.

50 years of the FARC: War, Drugs and Revolution

50 years of the FARC: War, Drugs and Revolution

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is in sight. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, for themselves and especially for their children, the enemies of the peace negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the ...

Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

 Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

Well-armed vigilantes in Mexico's Michoacan state have helped authorities dismantle a powerful criminal organization, but now the government may have a more difficult task: keeping Michoacan safe from the vigilantes and rival criminal groups.

Uruguay, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

Uruguay, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

After the lower house passed the controversial marijuana bill July 31, Uruguay is poised to become the first country on the planet to regulate the production, sale, and distribution of the drug, and provide a model for countries looking for alternatives to the world’s dominant drug policy paradigm. ...

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

After the capture of Zetas boss "Z40," Nuevo Laredo is bracing itself for the worst. This investigation breaks down what makes the city such an important trafficking corridor, and what it will take for the Zetas to maintain their grip on the city.

El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives And Negatives

El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives And Negatives

Whether it is sustainable or not, the truce -- which the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18 put into place March 2012 -- has changed the conventional thinking about who the gangs are and what is the best way to handle the most difficult law and order ...

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is in sight. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, for themselves and especially for their children, the enemies of the peace negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the ...

Corruption in El Salvador: Politicians, Police and Transportistas

Corruption in El Salvador: Politicians, Police and Transportistas

Since the end of El Salvador's civil war, the country's police has become a key player in the underworld. This series of five articles explore the dark ties between criminal organizations and the government's foremost crime fighting institution.

Juarez after the War

Juarez after the War

As a bitter war between rival cartels grinds to an end, Ciudad Juarez has lost the title of world murder capital, and is moving towards something more like normality. InSight Crime looks at the role politicians, police, and for-hire street gangs played in the fighting -- asking who ...