10 members of international drug ring arrested in Costa Rica

June 9, 2011

Three Colombians and seven Costa Ricans were arrested Thursday on suspicion of being linked to an international drug cartel. Among those arrested was Alexander Leudo Nieves, a Colombian citizen who was being pursued by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the International Police (Interpol).

According to Public Security Minister Mario Zamora, Costa Rican police forces conducted 15 raids throughout the country Thursday to apprehend suspects thought to be linked to the Mexican Zetas drug cartel. The raids were carried out in Puntarenas on the central Pacific coast, Santo Domingo de Heredia, north of the capital, and the San José neighborhoods of Zapote, La Uruca and Rohrmoser. Zamora said several hundred kilos of cocaine were recovered, as well as over $286,000 in the home of a Colombian in Rohrmoser.

During a press conference Thursday, Zamora said the group has been under investigation since October, and that it is thought the suspects form part of a cartel with members dispersed throughout Central America. He said that in Costa Rica cartel members are using the purchase and sale of furniture and real estate to mask drug movements and money laundering. The cartel’s drug route is presumed to run from Colombia north through Central America and into Mexico with a final destination of the U.S.

“We were able to determine that one of the suspects was importing and exporting very, very large quantities of expensive goods and furniture,” Zamora said. “The organization wasn’t using Costa Rica only as a destination for the drug shipments, but also as an intermediary location for reshipment to other destinations.”

Zamora said Leudo is linked to the leader of a Colombian drug cartel in Buenaventura, Colombia.

According to the Public Security Ministry, an estimated 600 to 900 tons of drugs pass through Costa Rica every year. Zamora said he considers the group of traffickers detained Thursday to be responsible for “a significant part of that transport,” as well as the transportation of laundered money. 

In the past month, the ministry has confiscated more than 1.5 tons of cocaine.

You may be interested

Adaptive surfing, part II: The story of Dean Bushby
sports
28 views
sports
28 views

Adaptive surfing, part II: The story of Dean Bushby

Ellen Zoe Golden - May 22, 2018

A three-part look at adaptive surfing in Costa Rica. Read Part I here to learn how a Central Pacific coach is…

Costa Rica launches Pride Connection network
Human rights
39 views
Human rights
39 views

Costa Rica launches Pride Connection network

Elizabeth Lang - May 22, 2018

As Costa Rica continues to grapple with the disagreements about marriage equality and gender identity that dominated the second round…

Costa Rica at a glance: top news from the past week
The Alvarado Administration
115 views
The Alvarado Administration
115 views

Costa Rica at a glance: top news from the past week

The Tico Times - May 21, 2018

Newly inaugurated Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado is closing in on two weeks on the job. Here are some of…