San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Drug cartel presence expected to grow in Costa Rica

United States officials expect the presence of drug cartels to grow in Costa Rica, as traffickers recognize the country’s vulnerabilities in deteriorating equipment and lack of armed forces.

According to Phil Springer, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) representative, the Sinaloa cartel has already established a presence in Costa Rica and has been storing an repackaging drugs for shipment north.

“[Costa Rica] doesn’t have army and doesn’t have a very strong police force,” he said in an interview with ADN radio. “In less than a year, the other cartels are going to see Costa Rica as an opportunity to have more power. They will take advantage of the saying ‘Pura Vida’.”

The interview comes at the same time the United States is requesting an extension of an agreement that allows the U.S. to use Costa Rican waters to fight trafficking.

The last time the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly was asked to review the agreement – known as the Joint Maritime Agreement – a handful of lawmakers rejected it, questioning its success and voicing skepticism over the motives of the United States.

The Joint Maritime Agreement eventually passed 31-8, but the controversy of the United States presence continued to be questioned.

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