Costa Rica in the Crosshairs (Part II)

In the second of a three-part series, investigator Michael Porth looks at the drug trafficking organizations operating in Costa Rica, who move their product through the country by land, sea and air.

DTOs in Costa Rica: Dynamics And Trafficking Modalities

DTOs operating in Costa Rica participate principally in drug trafficking and money laundering. These groups are also involved in arms trafficking, but the scale of this illicit activity is much smaller than the former two. In all three illicit activities there is a high level of coordination between Costa Rican and Foreign DTOs. Either the Costa Rican DTOs operate independently, or Costa Ricans form part of foreign DTOs and assist in their operations. The major pattern is that DTOs either take advantage of lax enforcement (due to lack of resources or training, or the ease of corruption), or innovate due to increased enforcement (especially in trafficking schemes over land and air).

(See part 1 and part 3 of this series)

It is important to take note of recent changes in DTO modalities in the last couple of years. The ICD52 noted that “in recent years, there has been evidence of warehouses and storage facilities in Costa Rica where drugs coming from Panama via the Inter-American Highway or via sea are temporarily stored and later sent to counties in the Isthmus through the country’s northern border” (author’s translation).53 This trend forms part of the evolution of DTO operations in the country. According to Jorge Rojas, the director of the OIJ, Costa Rica is no longer a meeting point between Colombian and Mexican cartels—with occasional use of Guatemalans—for the exchange and transport of drugs from south to north. Instead, the country is now a “drug center” that DTOs are increasingly using as a base of operations.54

As an example of changing trends, DTOs employing go-fast boats on the country’s Pacific side are using Golfito County (of Puntarenas Province) as a drop-off and storage point for drugs being transshipped through the country.55 They are paying local DTOs in drugs, which is fueling local sales and consumption.56,57 On the Caribbean side of the country, the following sub-section describes two different Costa Rican DTOs that coordinated with Colombian DTOs for international (the first case) and domestic (second case) drug trafficking. In the first case, there was an elaborate web of people in Costa Rica who exchanged subsidized (i.e. tax-free) fuel58 for cocaine and heroin; trafficked these drugs into Puerto Limón City and stored them; then later used connections in the Puerto Limón seaport to load these drugs into shipping containers and send them to the U.S. In the second case, Costa Rican DTOs were working with Colombian DTOs in the smuggling of high-potency marijuana. The trend in Puerto Limón City is fuel traded for drugs, which are either trafficked internationally or fed into the local market. Because the OIJ and PCD59 have performed the greatest amount of anti-drug operations in the greater San José area,60 this trend suggests that drugs arriving from the coasts are being sent in copious amounts to the Central Valley for storage, local sales, and eventual trafficking outside the country.61,62,63,64

Trafficking by Sea

Precise data is not available about when Colombian65 groups started using go-fast boats to traverse Costa Rican waters on the Pacific and Caribbean sides. Ostensibly due to an investigative report by La Nación in 2002 and 2003 about this type of illicit activity in Limón Province, however, the GOCR, via the national refinery—Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo (RECOPE, or the Costa Rican Petroleum Refinery)—responded to this trend by tinting66 subsidized fuel as a means to deter the illicit exchange of subsidized fuel for drugs described above.67 Historical data about the types of drugs smuggled (outside of cocaine) and nationalities of individuals detained (besides Colombian and Costa Rican) is not available.68 In the interest of assessing the overall size and scope of go-fast-boat detentions in Costa Rica, Table 6 illustrates cocaine and persons seizures since the GOCR ratified the Convenio de Patrullaje Conjunto in 2000 (CPC, or Maritime Counter Drug Cooperation Agreement).69

costa_rica1This case study focused research on Puerto Limón City and the surrounding area because of the scale of go-fast-boat operations in Caribbean waters and poverty levels70 in Limón Province. That is, the author’s interview with his Coast Guard interviewee and research of news stories revealed an exceptionally high level of coordination—and transportation of drugs—between Costa Rican and foreign DTOs in Caribbean waters. This phenomenon is a concern because, according to the author’s Coast Guard interviewee, this type of exchange has introduced drugs into Puerto Limón City, which has fueled drug-related violence there.71

Indirect data suggests that the exchange of subsidized fuel for drugs in Limón Province is very strong. According to Ernesto Rivera (La Nación journalist), although fishermen registered in Limón Province caught an average of 3% of the 20,000 tons of fish caught nationally in 2006 and 2007, their fuel consumption during this period rose by 5%, while national demand fell by 14%.72 This data, when combined with poverty, high unemployment, innovation (in the illicit sense), and corruption, help explain the pervasiveness of the subsidized fuel-drugs exchange that takes place in waters off of Limón Province.

The following example illustrates the coordination of domestic and foreign DTOs in Puerto Limón City for eventual international drug trafficking. On August 26, 2008, the PCD conducted a raid in Puerto Limón City that resulted in 13 arrests (all were Costa Rican nationals). According to the investigation, this DTO—which employed a secretary who worked in the Puerto Limón seaport, a Fuerza Pública73 police officer, and a Coast Guard officer—used subsidized fuel to exchange for cocaine and heroin (either handed over directly, or fished out of the sea later) that were later stored in Puerto Limón City, and eventually sent to the U.S. via the Limón seaport.74

The gang would execute the fuel-drug exchange in an area known as Dos Aguas (Two Waters), which is located about 40 miles off the coast from Barra del Colorado, a small, remote town positioned in the northeast corner of the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border. The drugs would either be directly exchanged with an unnamed Colombian DTO, or fished out of the sea at a later time. Once in possession of these drugs, the gang would transport them south into Puerto Limón City, into a section on the southern rim of the city known as Cineguita (its official name is Barrio Critóbal Colón) and store them. From there, the drugs were sent to Muelle (Dock) Alemán in the Puerto Limón seaport complex and hidden in container ships. After this operation, the secretary informed the drug’s recipients in the U.S. of the pending shipment. All the while, the Fuerza Pública and Coast Guard officers acted as informants to assure smooth operations throughout the process (ibid.).

The following example illustrates both the effective coordination between Costa Rican and U.S. authorities (via the CPC Agreement) and collusion between DTO groups for eventual domestic trafficking. On July 30, 2011 the Coast Guard seized 51 sacks (1,122 total kilograms) of high-potency marijuana (called High Red). At about 2 a.m. a U.S. Coast Guard plane detected three boats making a drug exchange in waters close to Puerto Limón City. An alert was signaled to the Costa Rican Coast Guard, whereupon two of its boats (one from Barra del Colorado and one from Puerto Limón City) embarked and eventually intercepted two of the three DTO boats (the third fled southeast to Panama). The two captured boats were registered in Costa Rica and were carrying a total of 4 Costa Ricans, one Nicaraguan, and one Jamaican. The origin and nationality of the crew of the third boat—the one that was initially carrying the marijuana—was not made known after its capture off the coast of Panama, though the author’s Coast Guard interviewee suspected that it was Colombian.75,76,77,78 Furthermore, while the ultimate destination of the drugs was not given, according to one of the interviewees in the Ministerio de Justicia—who specializes in drug-consumption issues—marijuana is the most-consumed drug in the country, and Jamaicans had previously been detained for trafficking and sale of this marijuana strain in Costa Rica.79,80 When one combines its popularity in consumption; the lower proportion of THC in domestic variations; and the tendency to not export these domestic variations, one can deduce that at least part of the shipment was destined for domestic consumption.81

Although Costa Rican-U.S. Coast Guard cooperation can help break up DTOs like in the example above, the author’s interviewee in the Costa Rican Coast Guard stated that the help is not enough. As an example, he told the author that their boats can travel anywhere from 35 to 40 knots. The DTOs, however, can travel as quickly as 50 knots given their larger and more powerful motors. If the Coast Guard has to chase (instead of surprising) these boats, therefore, it becomes a “lost cause.” Second, the scope of these DTOs is wide. Although the Puerto Limón City Coast Guard’s compound is housed within the sprawling RECOPE complex, and has somewhat hidden access to the sea via a canal, the author’s interviewee stated that informants placed around the complex advise the DTO if Coast Guard boats are headed to sea. When this happens, the DTO operating the fast boats either aborts its mission, alters its route, or dumps its drugs and weapons into the sea, depending on how much time it has.82

Threats against the Coast Guard after interdictions indicate both a precarious security situation, as well as the presence of DTOs in Puerto Limón City. After the marijuana seizure on July 30, 2011, the author’s interviewee stated that the Puerto Limón City Coast Guard received threatening phone calls to its general numbers (that are posted on its website). Callers referred to these Coast Guard employees as perros (dogs) and threatened to kill them. Thankfully for this part of the Coast Guard, RECOPE has very tight security around its perimeter, so immediate threats to these workers are relatively low. Coast Guard police work in alternating weeks, with one week being on call for 7 days over 24 hours, followed by a week of rest. While on duty, if they are not deployed to sea, they spend all their time in the RECOPE compound. Due to their location deep within this compound, their identities are also protected. However, the author’s contact stated that, when off duty, he does not wear or carry anything that would make someone associate him with the Coast Guard.83

While it was impossible to determine the origin of the threatening phone calls, the author’s interviewee stated that drug gangs abound in Puerto Limón City. Because there are many gangs that operate out of the city’s various sections (like Cineguita, Limoncito, Pacuare, and Moín), they compete with each other for territory and customers. Furthermore, threatening phone calls strongly suggest nexus between local and foreign DTOs; either local gangs made the calls, or representatives of the foreign DTOs (who could be Costa Rican) did.

Whatever the origin of the calls, the introduction of drugs from the subsidized fuel exchanges that cross-national DTOs execute propels drug use and related violence that these groups perpetrate. According to recent statistics, Limón County (which houses Puerto Limón City) has the highest assault and homicide rates in the country. In the former category, Limón County (population 105,000) registered 380 assaults per 100,000 citizens, which is higher than the 372 assaults per 100,000 citizens for the entire province of San José (population 1.6 million).84,85 In terms of homicide, Limón registered a figure over three times higher than San José Province: 36 per 100,000 citizens for the former, compared to 11.3 for the latter.86 The author’s interviewee blames some of this phenomenon on drug-related activity.87

In terms of local trafficking modalities, the author’s Coast Guard interviewee stated that taxis, especially from the Cineguita section of the city, offer their services to local DTOs, charging as much as 100,000 colones (around US$200) to drive shipments of drugs from Puerto Limón City to San José. If traveling the more popular route via Route 32, this journey is 141 kilometers (about 88 miles), and can take anywhere between 2.5 and 3 hours to complete. Incidentally, San José is—according to the most recent (i.e. 2009) available data—the area with the highest level of anti-drug operations, and thus, ostensibly, the area with the highest concentration of drugs at any time.88

Trafficking by Land

According to the author’s interviewees and open-source data, increased security along Costa Rica’s southern and northern borders is pushing DTOs away from land trafficking. The ICD states that due to difficulty in “working around” law enforcement, slowly DTOs are preferring to send drug shipments via sea and air.89 The author’s interviewee at La Nación stated that—until security became stricter at the Paso Canoas (south) and Peñas Blancas (north) border crossings—vehicles (usually trucks) would carry a metric ton or more of drugs (principally cocaine) and transport them through the Inter-American Highway.90

Due to the increase in security, the amount of drugs shipped per vehicle through Costa Rican borders has sharply declined (to an average of 300 kilograms per shipment), and DTOs have chosen smaller types of vehicles to avoid the probability of special police checks.91,92 In 2009, PCD officers stationed in Paso Canoas seized 2,786 kilograms of cocaine, while PCD officers stationed in Peñas Blancas seized 76 kilograms, for a total of 2,862 kilograms.93 This amount is slightly more than what was detained from go-fast boats in the same year (2,600 kilograms; see Table 5). However, one must note that in 2007 the PCD seized 14,174 kilograms from fast boats (see Table 5). Unfortunately, the author could not obtain further road-seized drug figures to corroborate the ICD’s claim that DTOs are less frequently using road trafficking methods.

Trafficking by Plane

This report has mentioned how Colombian groups used private airstrips in Costa Rica in the 1980s to refuel on their way to Mexico and the U.S. Trafficking via plane has evolved in two ways. First, although security has greatly increased at the country’s two main international airports (Juan Santamaría just outside of San José and Daniel Oduber in Liberia, Guanacaste Province), individuals have nevertheless tried flying out of them using various concealment methods. Second, according to the author’s interviewee at La Nación, the PCD is not present at the country’s small regional airports, and currently regulations do not exist that require checks on baggage or passengers on domestic flights.94

In the latter case, there is an open opportunity to load luggage with drugs and fly them either across the country (for later transshipment via vehicle or boat); fly them out of the country; or a combination of both trafficking modalities. Consider the following series of events: In the early morning hours of October 10, 2010, a small plane loaded with 173 kilograms of cocaine and destined for Guatemala crashed shortly after taking off from Tobias Bolaños International Airport95 (located just north of San José). Upon further investigation, it was determined that, about 30 minutes before takeoff—and after receiving a thorough security check—a small plane originating from Quepos, Puntarenas Province landed at Tobias Bolaños and headed for the same hangar. When the two planes were in the same hangar, the crews transferred the cocaine from the Quepos-originated plane into the wings of the Guatemala-bound plane, thus evading security checks altogether.96


While the attempt to smuggle drugs onto international-bound commercial flights has netted low amounts of seized drugs, smugglers frequently choose Juan Santamaría International Airport as a potential avenue for illicit export. Given the number of foreigners who were detained in 2009, it is clear that the commercial airlines are a major route for drug trafficking into Europe and Africa. Of the 122 police operations carried out in 2009, a total of 51 people were arrested.97 Of these 51, 9 were Costa Rican, while the remaining 42 were from the following countries: South Africa, U.S., Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal, Dominican Republic, Nigeria, Romania, Switzerland, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Mexico, Spain, Colombia, Israel, England, and Honduras.98 The ICD states that common destinations for drug-smugglers are Spain, the Netherlands, the U.S., Italy, Mexico, France, South Africa, Germany, Nigeria, and Turkey.99

Drug shipments through airmail is another recent smuggling trend that Costa Rican authoritieshave noticed. The ICD noted that seized packages went from 5 in 2005 to 58 in 2009.100 Types of drugs smuggled and quantities are not available, and there is not significant discussion about this trend in open-source documents.

Money Laundering

Based on extensive open-source research and responses from the author’s interviewees, money-laundering cases involving TCOs in Costa Rica almost exclusively involve DTOs. Recent schemes include the following: stuffing illicit bills into suitcases and attempting to fly (or drive) in and out of the country; investing in businesses, land, properties, and assets; and obtaining loans through complicit bank employees, which are promptly paid using illicit money. The nature of money laundering in Costa Rica is highly international. In other words, either the money is destined for another country, or it is tied to international DTOs.

The following example shows the level of cooperation between Costa Rican and foreign criminals. On July 16, 2011101 Guatemalan authorities announced that a Costa Rican man namedAlejandro Jiménez González (aka “Palidejo”) is the principal suspect for ordering the hit on Nicaraguan businessman Henry Fariñas (that killed the famed Argentine folk singer Facundo Cabral102) in Guatemala City a week earlier, on July 9.103 According to Costa Rican authorities, Jiménez González served as the head of the money-laundering division of an unnamed DTO that also operates in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Panama. It is suspected that the laundering operations—valued at multiple millions of dollars—started in Costa Rica in 2007, and concentrated on various types of investments. Among these were 29 sociedades anónimas (the equivalent of limited-liability companies) and various “luxurious” properties and vehicles associated with them. It is also suspected that Jiménez González brought money from Nicaragua and sent part of it to Panama, but at this point of the investigation it is not known how (either physically or through banks, or both). He traveled to Panama using his true passport, but employed a fake one—identifying him as a Nicaraguan—when traveling through the rest of Central America. He also employed various family members (including his parents) to run his illicit companies.104

When banks are used to launder money, complicit bank employees help facilitate the laundering and keep it temporarily under the radar. On March 14, 2011, for example, Costa Rican authorities arrested an employee of the Banco Popular for facilitating loans to two Costa Ricans with ties to the Familia Michoacana.105 This employee skipped bureaucratic steps when processing the loans in order to avoid potential red flags, and the pair receiving the money immediately paid the loans off after receiving them. Senior bank employees detected this activity starting in 2009, and sent the information to the Unidad de Inteligencia Financiera (Financial Intelligence Unit),106 which eventually led to their arrest. This investigation came on the heels of a June 2010 operation that netted the arrest of four Mexicans and seven Costa Ricans tied to the Familia and involved in cocaine shipments from Costa Rica to Mexico.107

A glance at official figures shows that a small number of people launder large amounts of drug-related money. According to figures from the Departamento de Planficación and the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz, the number of people sentenced for drug-related money laundering is few (i.e. 5 people in 2008, 4 people in 2009, and 2 people in 2011) and dominated by foreigners (only one Costa Rican is included in the list, in 2011). While it is hard to make a direct comparison—given lack of data for arrests for drug-related money laundering—the existing data presented does suggest that a small web of people control large amount of drug-related money.


Arms Trafficking

While illegal arms are indeed trafficked in and out of the Costa Rica, available data suggests that the scope and scale of this trade is small. Consider the following table:

costa_rica4Doing an exhaustive search of open-source material produced one story tying drug trafficking to arms smuggling: On April 17, 2008, authorities from the OIJ arrested seven Colombians who were in possession of 1,200 grams of cocaine and a “grand quantity of arms,” including AK-47s.109 These authorities suspected that the arms were destined for Colombia, possibly for a “guerrilla group” there.110

The author discovered only two other stories related to arms trafficking, but neither discussed the use, destination, or association of these illegal guns. On April 9, 2007 Costa Rican authorities arrested two members of the Fuerza Pública, a Costa Rican civilian, and a Colombian (and were further seeking the arrest of two additional members of the Fuerza Pública and two South Americans [no countries of origin given]) for possession of 52 illegal arms (including AK-47s, M-16s, and IMI Galil rifles) and 30,000 rounds of ammunition.111 Ties to DTOs or the ultimate use of these weapons were not stated. Similarly, on August 3, 2007, Costa Rican authorities arrested an engineering student with three sacks of an unstated amount of illegal guns and munitions.112 The destination and use for these weapons was not stated, nor was the student’s affiliation with a criminal organization, Costa Rican or transnational.

Thus, while arms trafficking does occur, available information indicates that it is relatively small and not as advanced as drug trafficking or money laundering. Furthermore, data limitations make it difficult to assess the destination of these weapons, and, more importantly, what (or if) they are being traded for money, drugs, or another commodity for DTOs.

Concluding Thoughts Regarding Trafficking Dynamics and Modalities

As the Tables in this section show, the quantity of DTOs and individuals, drugs, money, and arms that are either disarticulated or seized by Costa Rican authorities varies year to year. Between 2006 and 2007, for example, the amount of money seized decreased significantly. On the other hand, the number of illegal arms seized from 2006 and 2009 grew steadily, while the number of international DTOs disarticulated between 2006 and 2010 grew and fell, with no clear pattern of increase or decrease. Available data makes it impossible to determine if these rises and falls in disarticulations and seizures are due to either less activity on the part of the DTOs, or increased capacity of law enforcement.

What the author will do in the following section is give a brief summary of the GOCR’s initiatives to combat illicit activity in the country. As will be explained, the GOCR’s efforts are in response to the growth and resilience of DTOs. While the country’s strength in democracy and relatively strong institutions (especially its Judiciary) have increased the GOCR’s capacity to fight transnational crime, corruption is a constant disruptor that compromises the government’s full potential.

Part III Tomorrow: The Government’s Capacity to Combat TCOs

*Michael Porth is a former investigator for the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). He is currently a Security and Intelligence Analyst on Latin America and the Caribbean for Virtual Defense & Development International, Inc. (VDI).

This piece was produced as part of a research project undertaken by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) and funded by the US Department of Homeland Security. The views and conclusions contained herein are those of the author and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the Department of Homeland Security or START.


52 This acronym stands for the Instituto Costarricense sobre Drogas. It is the primary administrator of drug policy in Costa Rica. See for more information.

53 ICD. (2010). Situación nacional sobre drogas y actividades conexas. Retrieved from P. 40.

54 Aguilar, N. (2010, December 2). Policía decomisa 969 kilos de cocaína a cartel mexicano en Montes de Oro de Puntarenas (Costa Rica). Retrieved from

55 ICD. (2010). Situación nacional sobre drogas y actividades conexas. Retrieved from P. 38.

56 Ibid., p. 39.

57 Foreign DTOs paying local DTOs in drugs has caused an exponential rise in crack-cocaine production and use in the local population. Whereas in 1990 there were no crack seizures, by 2009, there were 209,043 crack rocks confiscated in the country (ICD, 2010, p. 42). This is because large amounts of crack can be converted from relatively small amounts of cocaine, and this is done mainly in homes (ibid., p. 52).

58 In 2008, these subsidies amounted to 97.5 colones per liter of diesel, and 165.75 colones per liter of regular gasoline (about 20 cents and 33 cents, respectively). Fuel prices at that time hovered around 590 colones (US$1.18) per liter of diesel, and 726 colones (US$1.45) per liter of regular gasoline. (Rivera, E. [2008, August 27]. Exoneración de pescadores cuesta ¢6.000 millones al año. La Nación. (Costa Rica). Retrieved from

59 This acronym stands for the Policía de Control de Drogas is an elite police force affiliated with the Executive branch. Specifically, it reports to the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública.

60 San José Province contains 1.6 of Costa Rica’s 4.5 million people (about 35%) (INEC, 2010).

61 OIJ. (2009). Infracciones a la Ley de Psicotrópicos: memoria del 2009. Document sent to author via email by interviewee at the Departamento de Justicia y Paz.

62 ICD. (2010). Situación nacional sobre drogas y actividades conexas. Retrieved from

63 OIJ. (2009). Infracciones a la Ley de Psicotrópicos: memoria del 2009. Document sent to author via email by interviewee at the Departamento de Justicia y Paz.

64 Instituto Costarricense sobre Drogas. (2010). Situación nacional sobre drogas y actividades conexas. Retrieved from

65 There is a possibility that Jamaican groups are helping import potent marijuana for domestic trafficking, though the author could not obtain direct evidence.

66 Another key (recent) law that is pending ratification in the legislature would limit the amount of fuel that fishing vessels can carry.

67 Rivera, E. (2008, August 27). Exoneración de pescadores cuesta ¢6.000 millones al año. La Nación. (Costa Rica). Retrieved from

68 Through aggregate data, the author was able to determine that heroin and marijuana are also trafficked, involving, among many possible nationalities, including Costa Ricans, Nicaraguans, and Jamaicans (see information on the next page).

69 This is a resources- and intelligence-sharing agreement between the Costa Rican and U.S. Coast Guards. More information is presented in Section 5.

70 According to INEC, as of July 2010, poverty levels in Limón Province were at 33%, while the national average is 24%. Furthermore, Vanessa Loaiza (2010) suggests that poverty levels within Puerto Limón City are 40%, but does not make it clear whether the data is based on the 2000 or 2010 census.

71 Interview with Coast Guard official, Bribrí, August 12, 2011.

72 Rivera, E. (2008, August 27). Exoneración de pescadores cuesta ¢6.000 millones al año. La Nación. (Costa Rica). Retrieved from

73 These are “first-responder” police. Because of their jurisdictional limitations, they participate much less in anti-drug operations.

74 Aguilar, N. (2008, August 27). Banda aprovechó combustible subsidiado para traficar drogas. La Nación (Costa Rica). Retrieved from

75 Arley, A. (2011, July 30). Decomiso de marihuana en Limón supera la tonelada. La Nación (Costa Rica). Retrieved from

76 Arley, A. (2011, July 30). Caen seis con tonelada de marijuana en Limón. La Nación (Costa Rica). Retrieved from–tonelada-de-marihuana-en-limon.aspx

77 Interview with Coast Guard official, Bribrí, August 12, 2011.

78 The interviewee stated that Colombian groups commonly retreat toward Panama when being interdicted. But, as explained at the top of the next page, Jamaicans have been caught trafficking and selling this strain of marijuana. While this evidence is ircumstantial, it is known that the High Red strain is foreign-produced.

79 Interview with official in the Ministerio de Justicia, San José August 10, 2011.

80 Arley, A. (2011, July 30). Decomiso de marihuana en Limón supera la tonelada. La Nación (Costa Rica). Retrieved from

81 ICD. (2010). Situación nacional sobre drogas y actividades conexas. Retrieved from P. 30, 44.

82 Interview with Coast Guard official, Bribrí, August 12, 2011.

83 Ibid.

84 Loaiza, V. (2010, November 6). Drogas, desempleo e inseguridad sumen a Limón en la desigualdad. La Nación (Costa Rica). Retrieved from

85 INEC. (2010, July). Principales características de los hogares y de las personas, por nivel de pobreza, Según zona (excluye servicio doméstico y pensionistas), julio 2010. Retrieved from

86 Loaiza, V. (2010, November 6). Drogas, desempleo e inseguridad sumen a Limón en la desigualdad. La Nación (Costa Rica). Retrieved from

87 Interview with Coast Guard official, Bribrí, August 12, 2011.

88 ICD. (2010). Situación nacional sobre drogas y actividades conexas. Retrieved from P. 47.

89 Ibid., p. 40.

90 Interview with La Nación journalist, San José, August 11, 2011.

91 Ibid.

92 ICD. (2010). Situación nacional sobre drogas y actividades conexas. Retrieved from P. 38.

93 Ibid., p. 40.

94 Interview with La Nación journalist, San José, August 11, 2011.

95 This is Costa Rica’s third international airport, though much smaller than Juan Santamaría and Daniel Oduber

96 Vargas, O. & Delgado, D. (2010, October 10). Narcos burlan seguridad de aeropuerto para enviar cocaína. La Nación (Costa Rica). Retrieved from

97 ICD. (2010). Situación nacional sobre drogas y actividades conexas. Retrieved from P. 36.

98 Ibid.

99 Ibid.

100 Ibid.

101 Policía indaga a empresario atacado junto con Cabral. La Nación (Costa Rica). Retrieved from·–a-empresario-atacado-junto-con-cabral.aspx

102 Fariñas was transporting Cabral to the Guatemala City airport at the time of the hit.

103 Arley, A. (2011, August 9). Asesinato de Cabral descubre presencia de grupo criminal aquí. La Nación(Costa Rica). Retrieved from

104 Arley, A. (2011, August 10). Grupo tiene actividades en 4 países de la región. La Nación (Costa Rica). Retrieved from

105 Delgado, D. (2011, March 15). Cae jefa de agencia el Popular por nexo con cartel de Michoacana. La Nación (Costa·Rica). Retrieved from

106 This and other anti-drug and -laundering agencies will be explained in more depth in the next section.

107 Delgado, D. (2011, March 15). Cae jefa de agencia el Popular por nexo con cartel de Michoacana. La Nación (Costa Rica). Retrieved from

108 An exchange rate of 500 colones per dollar was used to give an idea of how much money in colones was seized per year.

109 Aguilar, N. & Soto, R. (2008, April 18). Condenados por tráfico de drogas y armas. La Nación (Costa Rica). Retrieved·from

110 Ibid.

111 Aguilar, N. (2007, April 10). Tres policías más son ligados con tráfico de armas de guerra. La Nación (Costa Rica). Retrieved from

112 Arguedas, C. (2007, August 3). Universitario vinculado con tráfico de armas. La Nación (Costa Rica). Retrieved from·Retrieved from P.72.

(Image, above, shows Costa Rican police cutting open the corpse of a shark that had been used to store drugs)