Saturday, December 31, 2011

Drug Cartels Move Into Costa Rica

All of this — and Costa Rica's entire tourism-dependent economy — has been possible largely because of its reputation as a safe place that isn't like the rest of Central America.

"People say in Costa Rica God's always watching over us. We don't have a lot of hurricanes, we don't have devastating earthquakes, we don't have devastating poverty; instead of having tanks and military, we have teachers and schools," Damalas says.
But because there isn't a military and the police force has never had to be militarized, he says, "we are very vulnerable."

An Unprecedented 'Menace'

Recent polls show that crime and security are the leading public concern now in this country of 4.6 million people. The same laid-back attitude and openness to outsiders that draws tourists has also attracted Mexican cartels and their Colombia cocaine suppliers, who warehouse drug loads here and move them up the coastlines or overland toward the U.S.

Local contacts are increasingly paid in raw product for their logistical help, so drug use has jumped, especially for crack cocaine, and Costa Rica's homicide rate has nearly doubled since 2004.
The same article also mentions that Belize has been added to "the 'blacklist' of states considered major drug producing nations or transit countries."

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