San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica seizes more than 21 tons of cocaine in 2013

2013 was a banner year for cocaine seizures in Costa Rica.

The Public Security Ministry released a statement Monday reporting that law enforcement confiscated 21.8 tons of cocaine in 2013 alone, the largest annual seizure in the last three years. The ministry seized 4.4 more tons of cocaine during 2013 than 2012.

The administration has confiscated more than 50 tons of cocaine since May 2010, when President Laura Chinchilla’s administration took office.

Law enforcement broke up 116 drug trafficking organizations, including 27 international criminal networks, according to the same statement.

Public Security Vice Minister Celso Gamboa said the haul was the largest Costa Rica has seen, making the country a regional leader in drug seizures.

The ministry’s law enforcement strategy “positioned Costa Rica as the most secure country in Central America with the largest number of drug seizures and dismantled international drug-trafficking criminal organizations,” Gamboa said during a press conference on Monday.

On Tuesday, Public Security Minister Mario Zamora told The Tico Times the administration would continue to improve border security, both on land and at sea, including the use of scanners at border checkpoints to search shipping containers, and coastal radar stations like one in development on the remote Cocos Island, some 36 hours by boat off Costa Rica’s Pacific coast.

Beyond tightening borders and seizing more drugs, the public security minister said that prevention efforts and drug treatment for addicts would be needed to shrink the domestic market for illicit drugs that pass through Costa Rica on their way north to consumers located mostly in the United States. 

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