Report: Costa Rica Now a Cocaine Hub for South America
In a strategic shift for drug traffickers, Costa Rica has lately become an operational base for organized crime groups in South America, according to an internal report by Costa Rica's narcotics police.
The report, which was reviewed by Mexican newspaper El Universal, said that over the last several years, cocaine shipments from Costa Rica have made their way to 39 different destinations on four continents. The cocaine originates in Columbia.
In the past, Costa Rica has functioned more as a meeting point for drug distributors and consumers.
Authorities have also begun to find increased amounts of cocaine within Costa Rica – they seized 15.5 tons in 2012, up from 9.2 tons the previous year. This echoes the overall trend of rising drug use and addiction in "transit countries" – those countries traditionally involved in the drug trade only as trafficking thoroughways - which OCCRP covered in September.
Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla has said the war on drugs has heightened violence and corruption in her country, pointing to recent reports on the rise of "narco-families" - groups wherein entire Costa Rican families including grandparents are involved in the drug trade. Costa Rican authorities have dismantled 619 crime groups since 2006, according to a report by InfoSurHoy, of which nearly one-third were “narco-families.”