San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Ministry Cracks Down On Crack Trade

A steady stream of drug seizures continued this week as Public Security Minister Janina del Vecchio unveiled her ministry’s “anti-crack” plan.

Judicial Investigation Police contributed to a host of recent drug-seizures with a raid Saturday in La Uruca of the Rical Corporation, a business they believe responsible for trafficking drugs to Guatemala and Germany.

During the operation, they seized 35 kilograms of cocaine and arrested four Ticos and one Colombian. All five have been ordered to five months of preventive prison and are facing international drug trafficking charges.

The first suspect, Ricardo Alem, was the president of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE) in 1987 during President Oscar Arias’ first presidency. Alem was released last December after serving a 13-year sentence for drug trafficking. Alem also has the dubious distinction of being the first person to be arrested under Costa Rica’s 1988 Psychotropic Drug Law, but was eventually acquitted of those charges.

Additionally, Drug Control Police recently arrested a Guatemalan in Peñas Blancas on the border with Nicaragua after seizing 135 kilograms hidden in truck motors and gas tanks. He has been ordered the three months of preventive prison while prosecutors investigate the case.

According to a Public Security Ministry press release, he is fourth Guatemalan arrested by Drug Control Police in seven months.

In La Uruca, a northwestern San José neighborhood, police arrested a Colombian man and seized 200 grams of cocaine wrapped in condoms. The man was traveling in a taxi when police pulled it over and searched all of the passengers.

Del Vecchio announced her crack initiative last week, saying, “Drugs are directly involved in the increase of thefts, murders, gangs, suicides and families falling apart in Costa Rica.

“It’s a downward spiral that has become the country’s principal problem.”

In other news, Coast Guard officials near Siquirri on the Caribbean slope arrested three people, whom they caught transporting 29 kilograms of turtle meat in a canoe.


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