Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua Dismantle Powerful Drug-Trafficking Ring

By Dialogo
March 30, 2012

On March 28, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama concluded a vast operation to dismantle a network that trafficked drugs from Colombia to Mexico, resulting in 55 people arrested and around 2.3 tons of cocaine seized over the course of a year, an official source announced.

“It’s a very positive result; it’s an investigation carried out in coordination with the Panamanian and Nicaraguan police. It’s a resounding success in the fight against organized crime,” Costa Rican Deputy Security Minister Celso Gamboa declared.

The operation, which also resulted in the seizure of 1,470,000 dollars, 1,773 hits of crack, around 30 vehicles, and 22 firearms, ended with the arrest, in the Costa Rican provinces of Limón, Heredia, and Puntarenas, of four Colombian nationals and one Panamanian citizen, an announcement by the Security Ministry specified.

The Colombian arrestees were identified with the surnames Sánchez Ibarguen, Rodríguez Benites, Quiñones Riascos, and Riascos Cortez, while the Panamanian cohort answers to the surnames Vallejo Caicedo.

Among the Colombian arrestees is one of the ‘brains’ of the organization, in what was one of the major successes in dismantling this network, Gamboa said to local radio broadcaster ADN.

The announcement added that in the operation as a whole, 24 people from Costa Rica, 13 from Panama, 14 from Colombia, and four from Nicaragua were arrested, in a total of 19 coordinated police actions in Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.

“Considering the way in which they operated, we’re talking about an organized-crime network that crosses borders; they’re obviously linked to cartels,” the deputy minister declared, without specifying which cartels.

According to official data, 90 percent of the cocaine consumed in the United States passes through Mexico and Central America, where violence has spiked as a consequence of the activities of drug traffickers and allied gangs.

The Central American governments are searching for joint measures to confront drug trafficking and alternatives to the frontal assault promoted by the United States, due to their view that the fight is not producing sufficient results.