Costa Rican authorities arrest Augustin Reyes Aragon, alleged leader of ‘Los Tarzanes’

Agents of Costa Rica's Judicial Investigation Body (OIJ) arrested Agustin Reyes Aragon, 40, on June 12. They arrested Reyes Aragon during a series of raids in the Caribbean coastal province of Limon.
Gordon Dillow | 2 July 2014

Transnational Threats

Security agents captured Agustin Reyes Aragon, the alleged leader of the drug trafficking group Los Tarzanes, Costa Rica Judicial Investigation Body [OIJ] Director Francisco Segura Montero said June 12. [Photo OIJ]

Costa Rican authorities have arrested the alleged leader of a Nicaraguan drug trafficking group known as Los Tarzanes.

Agents of Costa Rica's Judicial Investigation Body (OIJ) arrested Agustin Reyes Aragon, 40, on June 12. They arrested Reyes Aragon during a series of raids in the Caribbean coastal province of Limon.

Security forces also detained three other suspects: a Nicaraguan man, a Honduran man, and a female whose nationality was not immediately determined. OIJ agents confiscated two AK-47 assault rifles, a vehicle and currency in the amount of $14,000 (USD) and one million colones during the raids.

Wanted in Nicaragua

Reyes Aragon has been wanted for drug trafficking since 2010, when Nicaraguan police issued an arrest warrant for him.

The OIJ had been investigating the activities of Reyes Aragon and Los Tarzanes since 2012, according to OIJ Director Francisco Segura Montero.

Los Tarzanes, which is allegedly is run by Reyes Aragon and his six brothers, is suspected of smuggling cocaine from Colombia and marijuana from Jamaica into Costa Rica.

Authorities believe Los Tarzanes operatives store the drugs in Limon for later shipment by boat or truck to Honduras and Mexico, or for sale in Costa Rica's domestic illicit drug market.

Los Tarzanes

Los Tarzanes was founded in the mid-1990s as part of a drug trafficking network operated by the now defunct Norte del Valle Cartel in Colombia, Nicaraguan police have said. Operating primarily as transporters, Los Tarzanes operatives use go-fast boats and vehicles to move shipments of Colombian cocaine and precursor chemicals for methamphetamine production north for eventual sale to Mexican transnational criminal organizations such as the Gulf Cartel (CDG).

Los Tarzanes was originally based along Nicaragua’s southern border. In recent years, as Nicaraguan security forces have increased patrols in that region, the drug trafficking group has increased its operations on the Costa Rican border.

Costa Rican security successes

In addition to the arrests of the suspected members of Los Tarzanes, Costa Rica police and security forces have scored a number of successes against transnational criminal organizations engaged in the drug trade.

For example, on June 10 and 11, 2014, the Costa Rica Coast Guard seized more than 4 tons of cocaine found on Costa Rican fishing boats off the Pacific Coast. The seizure was reportedly the largest in the country's history.

Costa Rican drug seizures have more than doubled since 2011. Costa Rica security forces have dismantled more than a dozen international drug trafficking operations since 2006, according to published reports.

The capture of Reyes Aragon and the increase in drug seizures may indicate that Costa Rican security forces are improving their effectiveness in fighting drug trafficking, said Armando Rodríguez Luna, a security analyst at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

Costa Rican security forces have improved their effectiveness in fighting Los Tarzanes and other organized crime groups “because they have improved their ability to protect the country’s border in the fight against drug trafficking, and they have continued to collaborate and exchange information with other governments in joint border operations,” according to Rodríguez Luna.

Julieta Pelcastre contributed to this article.

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