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The Costa Rica Cocaine Connection
A lot of Americans and others find Costa Rica cheap and a near perfect place to seek refuge, retire or vanish. It has most of the modern amenities, great weather and no drug cartels issues like Mexico to the north.
Well, the Colombian and Mexican cartels are changing that and using Costa Rica as a major route through which 80% of their coke travels to the USA. In the 80's, it mostly traveled through the Caribbean. Last year, police there seized 15.5 tons of coke that if sold on US streets would yield two billion dollars. It's big money. There are only three checkpoints at the border between it and Nicaragua manned by only a few policemen.
The country has no military and is heavy in social spending with the best health care around. But, it is the Mexican Sinaloa cartel that threatens this peaceful nation filled with foreigners. Because of the drug smuggling through the country, Costa Rica has experienced a 71% increase in crime and murder in five years to 520 deaths. To help fight the growing drug issues, the US has provided $500 million, China gave the country $20 million to fight it. From Panama, the coke is smuggled in and through South America using land and sea routes. The smugglers have 10 landing points frequently used on the west coast and many fewer on the east coast.
In a given year, at least 130 tons of coke transits through Costa Rica, it may be more.