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Viewing cable 06SANJOSE2671, COSTA RICA MINI-DUBLIN GROUP REPORT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06SANJOSE2671 2006-11-24 13:01 2011-03-08 16:04 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy San Jose
Appears in these articles:
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasDestacadas/Investigacion2702320.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotaPrincipal/Investigacion2702324.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702325.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702326.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702327.aspx
VZCZCXYZ0006
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #2671/01 3281336
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241336Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6727
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SAN JOSE 002671 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
FOR INL/PC MCKECHNIE AND INL/LP MARTIN 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: SNAR PREL KCRM CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA MINI-DUBLIN GROUP REPORT 
 
REF: STATE 179116 
 
1.  Summary:  Post convened a mini-Dublin Group meeting on 
November 17, 2006 with representatives of the embassies of 
Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the 
Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.  The U.S. 
counternarcotics program remains the largest among Dublin 
Group members in Costa Rica.  End Summary. 
 
Drug Situation and Policy Initiatives 
------------------------------------- 
2. Costa Rica continues to serve as a transit point for 
illegal narcotics destined for the United States and Europe 
from production sites in South America.  Costa Rica's 
geographic position astride important sea routes, its large 
maritime area (10 times larger that its land mass), and its 
short distance from Colombia combine to make the country a 
convenient logistics platform for trafficking organizations 
moving narcotics, primarily to the United States. 
 
3. Narcotics continue to be shipped through Costa Rican 
territory by land, sea, and air.  The Pan-American Highway 
serves as a major thoroughfare for large land shipments of 
illicit drugs and other contraband while a lack of detection 
and enforcement resources at Costa Rica's international 
airports provide opportunities for smuggling drugs--notably 
heroin, but increasingly cocaine through the use of 
"mules"--to the United States and Europe.  Use of package 
couriers such as DHL for smuggling small narcotics shipments 
was a concern to European members of the group.  London, 
Madrid, and Amsterdam were identified as primary destinations 
for Costa Rican "mules" due to lack of visa requirements and 
direct air connections.  All participants agreed that the use 
of Costa Rican flagged fishing vessels to smuggle narcotics 
and to refuel "go-fast" boats is a growing problem. 
According to the Canadian representative, cocaine smuggling 
is common enough within the region's fishing fleets that it 
is referred to as "white lobster." 
 
4. Costa Rican authorities had seized a record 7,950 
kilograms of cocaine as of November 2006.  Costa Rican 
officials have increased their seizures of cocaine every year 
since 2001.  (Note: 2006 statistics on cocaine seizures do 
not include neaQ 17 metric tons seized at sea by U.S. 
assets under the terms of the bilateral maritime 
counternarcotics agreement.)  The drug control police (PCD in 
Spanish) launched a major offensive against small-time drug 
dealers and have increased seizures of crack cocaine to date 
by a factor of six (111,698 "rocks" compared to just over 
18,000 for all of 2005).  Destruction of marijuana plants 
dropped substantially, however, in 2006 to 353,500 plants 
from over one million in 2005.  In every other category the 
PCD dramatically increased seizures: 2,464 kilograms of 
marijuana (881 in 2005), 60.6 kilograms of heroin (49.38 in 
2005), and 5,963 tablets of MDMA/Ecstasy in 2006 compared to 
only 41 tablets in 2005.  Costa Rican authorities seized over 
$4 million in suspect currency as opposed to $850,000 in 2005. 
 
5. Costa Rican officials continue to demonstrate 
professionalism and reliability as partners with the 
international community in combating narcotics trafficking. 
Costa Rica aggressively investigated allegations of internal 
corruption and successfully prosecuted officials in 2006. 
U.S. law enforcement agencies consider the public security 
forces and judicial officials to be full partners in 
counternarcotics investigations and operations. 
 
6. Costa Rica is compliant with all UN drug conventions and 
continues to implement its comprehensive national drug plan, 
drafted in 2003.  Costa Rica has strict controls on precursor 
chemicals, although money laundering legislation has 
significant loopholes.  There were no legislative initiatives 
to address these loopholes in 2006, nor were there 
significant changes to Costa Rica's counternarcotics policies 
or institutions beyond a change in leadership of the Costa 
Rican drug institute (ICD in Spanish).  Other policy 
initiatives include ongoing but still unsuccessful efforts to 
bring the multilateral "Agreement Concerning Cooperation in 
Suppressing Illicit Maritime and Aeronautical Trafficking in 
Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in the Caribbean 
Area" into force.  Costa Rica and the Netherlands are joint 
sponsors of the agreement but neither country has yet 
ratified.  Dublin Group members who have ratified the 
agreement include the United States and United Kingdom.  The 
U.K. representative mentioned a EU-Latin American 
intelligence sharing initiative that has produced two 
meetings to date and the French representative said that a 
similar effort is currently underway in Colombia involving 
law enforcement liaison officers throughout the region. 
 
External Assistance 
------------------- 
7.  The United States continues to be the largest donor of 
counternarcotics assistance among Dublin Group members in 
Costa Rica.  Total U.S. counternarcotics assistance to the 
government of Costa Rica in 2006 was around $400,000 
including training, equipment, conferences, and seminars. 
Besides the U.S. mission, only the French and Spanish 
embassies maintain a full-time law enforcement presence in 
Costa Rica. 
 
Levels/Examples of Cooperation 
------------------------------ 
8. The French embassy finances the participation of 12 -15 
Costa Rican officials per year in regional training courses 
as well as providing advice and assistance related to 
narcotics trafficking, organized crime, dignitary protection, 
and crisis management.  Currently, the French police attache 
in San Jose also covers Panama.  Beginning next year, this 
attache will cover all of Central America, including Panama 
(further diffusing French law enforcement attention 
throughout the region).  The German, Canadian, Italian and 
British embassies have police attaches who cover Costa Rica 
from other countries in the region.  The Netherlands provided 
$10,000 in computer training to police officials in 2006. 
Canada provided a regional seminar for narcotics police 
through the OAS/CICAD and plans a similar event in Panama 
next year.  Belgium conducted occasional counternarcotics 
patrols (at times jointly with the Dutch) in the Caribbean 
and the French Navy intercepted two Panamanian vessels 
carrying multi-ton loads of cocaine during 2006. 
 
Recommendations 
-------------- 
9. All the participants agreed again this year to recommend 
that the Costa Rican government take urgent action to remedy 
serious vulnerabilities in the area of money laundering.  We 
agreed to look for opportunities to jointly and separately 
urge the government to close loopholes in anti-money 
laundering legislation.  Participants also agreed that we 
should continue to focus our shrinking resources on helping 
Costa Rica to help itself by improving inter-institutional 
cooperation within the GOCR. 
 
Follow Up 
--------- 
 
10. The government of Costa Rica took no action in 2006 to 
follow up on similar money laundering recommendations made by 
the members of the Dublin Group the year before. 
FRISBIE