Costa Rica Arrests Leader of Transnational Nicaragua Trafficking Ring

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Authorities in Costa Rica have arrested the leader of Nicaraguan drug transporters the Tarzanes, highlighting the transnational operations of a group that is an important link in the Central American cocaine trafficking chain.

On June 12, Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Body (OIJ) conducted nine raids in the province of Limon on the Caribbean coast and arrested four members of a drug trafficking organization, among them Tarzanes leader Agustin Reyes Aragon reported La Prensa. In addition to Reyes Aragon, the detained suspects included another Nicaraguan, a Honduran, and a woman whose nationality had not yet been identified. 

According to Francisco Segura Montero, the director of the OIJ, authorities were not able to capture all of the suspected members of the organization during the raids.   

Segura Montero stated that the OIJ had been investigating Reyes Aragon’s activties in Costa Rica since 2012, and said the alleged Tarzanes leader directed a group that brought cocaine from Colombia and marijuana from Jamaica by boat, stored the drugs in Limon, and then sent them north to Honduras and Mexico or sold them for Costa Rica’s domestic market. 

Nicaraguan police had previously issued an international arrest warrant for Reyes Aragon, who is wanted in the country for drug trafficking.

InSight Crime Analysis

According to the Nicaraguan police, the Tarzanes started as part of a drug trafficking network that transported cocaine for Colombia’s Norte del Valle Cartel (NDVC). The group reportedly trafficked the cartel’s cocaine from Panama to Costa Rica’s Limon province in go-fast boats. From there, the product continued its journey northward, where it was purchased by Mexican criminal groups such as the Gulf Cartel.    

SEE ALSO: Tarzanes Profile

While the NDVC has long since broken up, the arrest of Reyes Aragon indicates that the group continues to operate in the border region between Nicaragua and Costa Rica as part of a regional drug trafficking network moving Colombian cocaine north.

Now that Reyes Aragon has been captured, the group will likely continue to operate under the command of one of Reyes’ six brothers, all of whom are reportedly linked to the Tarzanes.

Reyes’ capture in Costa Rica also highlights the country’s increasing role in drug trafficking. Cocaine seizures have more than doubled in Costa Rica since 2011, and at least 16 international drug trafficking operations have been dismantled in the country since 2006.

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