San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Synthetic Drugs Likely Made in Costa Rica

DRUG laboratories in Costa Ricacould be producing ecstasy and other syntheticrecreational drugs, according toorganized crime specialists here.The evidence is stacked in favor of thepossibility: the ease with which thesedrugs can be fabricated, the high cost oftransporting them here from outside thecountry, and the technological advancementand higher level of education herelead police to believe drugs such as ecstasyand LSD are being produced nationally,according to Paúl Chaves, director ofSpecialized Investigation and OrganizedCrime at the Public Security Ministry.He told the daily Al Día that whilemost synthetic drugs are imported fromHolland and Belgium by air or, in recentmonths, by tankers and even on cruiseships, authorities believe the imports areon a small scale.An annual U.S. State Departmentreport warns of a rise of synthetic drugconsumption, sale and transport in theCentral Valley cities of San José, Alajuela,Heredia and Cartago.The Costa Rican Drug Institute (ICD)reports there have been eight significantecstasy confiscations since 2000. In the past16 months, the Security Ministry’s DrugControl Police and the JudicialInvestigation Police (OIJ) confiscated 1,625ecstasy pills, which is the most commonlyfound synthetic drug in the country.Police confiscated 1,000 pills in 2003and 12,000 in 2002. Only two people,both Cubans, have been sentenced fortrafficking synthetic drugs in the country,and both are serving 10-year terms.According to the U.S. Embassy inSan José, ecstasy consumption in theUnited States rose from 400,000 pills in1997 to 9.3 million in 2000, and is stillrising.

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