Costa Rican law enforcement officials say they have broken up a major domestic narcotics trafficking ring, the largest they have seen that was not run by Mexican or Colombian criminal gangs, the Tico Times reported
Costa Rica's Chief Public Prosecutor Jorge Chavarría said the activities of the gang, which allegedly sold cocaine and marijuana, showed that Costa Rican dealers were looking to play a much larger role in trafficking activities.
“History has changed,” he said. “We now have Costa Rican groups who want to be entrepreneurs in drugs: owners of the drugs, the organization and the routes.”
Twelve Costa Ricans were arrested in a series of raids on Tuesday, according to the Times.
Those arrested included bank tellers who allegedly helped launder the drug trafficking group’s profits and police officers accused of disclosing information to the gang about anti-drug operations.
Public Security Minister Mario Zamora said the gangs activities included cocaine shipments to Europe for sale in Belgium and imports of marijuana from Jamaica to be sold in Costa Rica.
Officials said the Costa Rican ring had been operating for at least three years, and that they became aware of its operations while investigating the November 2011 murder of a Colombian man with U.S. citizenship.
Drug traffickers’ penetration “in institutions and political parties, these are things that should worry us all. We shouldn’t drop our guard if we want to keep this democracy,” Chavarría said.
According to the State Department’s
2013 International Narcotics Strategy Control Report, Costa Rica “cooperates with the United States to combat drug trafficking, but due to inadequate resources and complicated bureaucracy, the country continues to suffer from drug-related violence and organized crime.”
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