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Viewing cable 07SANJOSE1618, ASSESSMENT OF COSTA RICAN SECURITY REQUIREMENTS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07SANJOSE1618 2007-08-30 12:12 2011-03-07 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL 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/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702325.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotaPrincipal/Investigacion2702324.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702326.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702327.aspx
VZCZCXRO4364
OO RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL
RUEHQU RUEHRD RUEHRG RUEHRS RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHSJ #1618/01 2421211
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 301211Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8781
INFO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 SAN JOSE 001618 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR WHA/FO:GSNIDLE, WHA/CEN AND INL/LP: AMARTIN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/29/2017 
TAGS: CS KJUS PGOV PINS PREF PREL PTER SNAR
SUBJECT: ASSESSMENT OF COSTA RICAN SECURITY REQUIREMENTS 
 
REF: A. STATE 107145 
     B. SAN JOSE-WHA/CEN EMAILS OF 08/08/2007 AND 
        08/24/2007 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Mark Langdale per 1.4 (d). 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY: Costa Rica remains a significant 
transshipment point for drugs, people, currency and weapons. 
A successful comprehensive regional security strategy for 
Central America must include appropriately trained and 
equipped Costa Rican forces, willing and able to cooperate 
with counterparts in neighboring countries, both civilian and 
military. The GOCR is moving in the right direction; Costa 
Rica,s dependence on USG security assistance gives us some 
leverage to nudge the GOCR further.  Eventually, Costa Rica 
could model an effective, non-military security force capable 
of dealing with transnational criminal activity and violent 
domestic crime.  We suggest a list of prioritized initiatives 
(see para 8), in support of USG and GOCR law enforcement 
objectives, consistent with the SICA regional security 
strategy, and built upon on-going GOCR initiatives.  Our list 
concentrates on public security/law enforcement as well as 
counternarcotics/border security initiatives, in order to 
equip Costa Rica to make full use of its location and 
existing assets.  This would have a significant and positive 
impact on regional security, in our view.  END SUMMARY. 
 
=========== 
THE SETTING 
=========== 
 
2.  (SBU) Costa Rica remains a significant transshipment 
point for drugs, people, currency and weapons being smuggled 
between the U.S. and South America.  GOCR authorities seized 
a record 25.5 MT of cocaine in 2006, for example, including 
14 MT seized off Costa Rica,s coasts by U.S. assets, under 
the terms of the 1998 Bilateral Maritime Agreement.  The 
trend has continued into 2007.  In July and August alone, 
joint USG-GOCR efforts intercepted four go-fast boats, and 
forced a fifth to turn back towards Panama.  The results: 
more than three MT of cocaine seized or sunk, and 13 
individuals detained.  Ashore, USG-GOCR law enforcement 
cooperation uncovered a probable fuel depot for go-fasts and 
a cocaine cache which netted another two MT of cocaine, over 
1200 gallons of fuel and three more arrests. 
 
3.  (SBU) Since January 1, the GOCR has tallied nearly 30 MT 
of narcotics seized, plus $3 million in cash, $2.4 million 
alone hidden in a tractor-trailer attempting to enter Costa 
Rica from Nicaragua in July.  These successes point to the 
underlying flow of narcotics and currency through Costa Rica 
and its waters by traffickers who are overwhelmingly 
Colombian and increasingly violent.  A group targeted 
Minister of Public Security Berrocal in June, for example, 
further fueling the widespread public concern about domestic 
security.  Meanwhile, crime rates continue to rise, remaining 
a top concern in opinion polls. 
 
4.  (SBU) The flow of illegal immigrants, in particular 
Chinese, has also posed challenges for the GOCR.  In October 
2006 and April 2007, 185 Chinese were rescued from two 
crippled smuggling vessels in Costa Rican waters.  The last 
of these are only now being repatriated to China.  The 
GOCR,s June 1 recognition of China, and the rush to 
establish full relations, including easing restrictions on 
Chinese businessmen coming to Costa Rica or Chinese visiting 
with a valid US or EU visa, have raised the specter of even 
greater human smuggling flows to and through Costa Rica. 
 
============== 
OUR ASSESSMENT 
============== 
 
5.  (C) A successful comprehensive regional security strategy 
for Central America therefore must include appropriately 
trained and equipped Costa Rican forces, willing and able to 
cooperate with counterparts in neighboring countries, both 
civilian and military.  The GOCR is moving in the right 
direction, and is beginning to reform its antiquated and 
ineffective domestic security apparatus.  Costa Rican 
security forces remain the least corrupt in Central America, 
but they are significantly under-funded and under-trained, 
relying heavily on U.S.- supplied training and equipment, as 
well as on-going investigative, operational and technical 
support.  In addition, Costa Rica,s sense of exceptionalism 
has made them historically reluctant to embrace regional 
initiatives, while their historic &allergy8 to most things 
 
SAN JOSE 00001618  002 OF 003 
 
 
military has limited their cooperation with armed forces. 
 
6. (C) Costa Rica,s dependence on USG security assistance 
gives us some leverage to nudge the GOCR further towards the 
goal of having an effective domestic security force that 
ultimately can serve as a regional model for combating 
transnational criminal activity and violent domestic crime 
without a military.  Any new USG assistance, like our current 
programs, should build on what the GOCR is already doing, and 
have synergistic applications for counter-narcotics, 
counter-crime and counter-terrorism efforts.  While our 
assistance flow (especially if increased) gives us additional 
influence over Costa Rica,s security forces in the short- to 
medium-term, our long-term objective should be to enhance 
Costa Rica,s independence on security issues, not fuel 
dependence.  To face the transnational threats confronting 
the region, Costa Rica must learn to rely more on its own 
means, working more closely with its neighbors. 
 
================ 
SOME SUGGESTIONS 
================== 
 
7.  (C) In light of the above, Post,s Law Enforcement 
Committee suggests the following initiatives, in support of 
USG and GOCR law enforcement objectives and consistent with 
the SICA regional security strategy.  Our suggestions are 
intended to encourage Costa Rica,s partnership, 
inter-operability, intelligence and information sharing, as 
described in Reftel.  These suggestions also build upon 
on-going GOCR initiatives, in order to maintain GOCR buy-in 
and support.  Our Law Enforcement Committee concluded that 
existing and projected INCLE and IMET could support our 
®ular8 initiatives (e.g., police training and equipping 
key units).  Although higher than recent funding levels, we 
believe the assistance described below would have a 
significant and positive impact on regional security by 
equipping Costa Rica to make full use of its location and 
existing assets. We realize that any non-IMET military 
assistance to support the programs described below would 
require the GOCR to enact Article 98 legislation or an APSA 
waiver from the USG. 
 
8.  (C) PRIORITIZED LIST OF NEW USG ASSISTANCE (USD) 
 
A) COMPLETE THE NATIONAL WIRETAP FACILITY (700K):  Although 
the GOCR has budgeted USD 700K for this project, in addition 
to USD 100K available from INCLE pipeline funds, the latest 
DEA technical survey estimates the total project price at 
approximately USD 1.5 million.  The GOCR already endorses 
this project, which builds upon existing, but nascent GOCR 
use of wiretaps and offers important law enforcement and 
case-building synergy, including for cases in US courts, 
across the full spectrum of counter-narcotics, 
counter-terrorism and counter-criminal investigations and 
prosecutions.  This facility would mesh with a similar, 
newly-started facility in Panama and planned future 
facilities in Nicaragua and Guatemala. 
 
B) REFIT INOPERABLE COAST GUARD 65-FT PATROL BOATS 
(1 million):  Refitted engines, communications and radar 
equipment and repaired/replaced hulls on the GOCR,s two 
65-foot patrol boats would increase the Coast Guard,s 
primary maritime assets (from three to five), greatly 
enhancing Costa Rica,s ability to patrol its waters, working 
with USG assets under the Bilateral Maritime Agreement. 
 
C) REFIT COAST GUARD 82-FT PATROL BOATS (425K):  Major 
maintenance and needed upgrades for the three 82-foot patrol 
boats are overdue, to the point that one boat is inoperable 
and the safe operation of the other two will soon be in 
question.  In our view, refitting the two 65-foot vessels out 
of service, as noted above, is a higher priority for any new 
USG assistance.  But, also refitting the 82-ft vessels would 
mean that five of the Coast Guard,s major assets would be 
fully functioning.  This would maximize the GOCR,s maritime 
resources and greatly enhance Costa Rica,s patrol and 
surveillance capabilities, thereby improving Costa Rica,s 
contribution to regional counter-narcotics and 
counter-trafficking efforts. This assistance would be in 
addition to the USD 75K requested in FY 2009 INCLE funding to 
begin refurbishing these vessels, and the FY 2009 IMET 
requested for maintenance training. 
 
D) INSTALL FORWARD LOOKING INFRARED RADAR (FLIR) ON AIR UNIT 
SURVEILLANCE AIRCRAFT (17-25K PER AIRCRAFT): This would also 
maximize use of existing assets in arguably the 
 
SAN JOSE 00001618  003 OF 003 
 
 
best-maintained, equipped and utilized unit within the 
Ministry of Public Security.  FLIR installation would enhance 
the detection of trafficking activity, especially along the 
porous border with Panama, essentially wide open now to 
illegal traffic of all types.  This would be another GOCR 
contribution to regional security efforts.  The Air Unit has 
three aircraft that could be FLIR equipped. 
 
E) REFIT INOPERABLE COAST GUARD 105-FT PATROL BOAT (2 
million):  Although less of a priority than refitting the 
existing 82-foot assets or the out-of-service 65-foot 
vessels, putting this largest patrol craft into operation 
would greatly enhance Costa Rica,s maritime capabilities, 
enabling the Coast Guard to operate as far offshore as Cocos 
Island.  But, it is less important to our current maritime 
counter-narcotics focus, which is in areas closer to shore. 
 
F) PLACE A PERMANENT REGIONAL RADAR/COMMUNICATIONS 
INSTALLATION IN COSTA RICA (USD 1 million to install, plus 
annual operating costs):  Costa Rica,s location and 
topography offer an ideal setting for air- and surface-search 
radar.  Equipment could also be installed to provide a remote 
communications capability for JIATF-South and a remote data 
link entry point for information received from airborne and 
ship borne surveillance platforms. AFSOUTH has already 
surveyed the former CBRN site at Cerro Azul for TDY 
deployment of a counter-narcotics radar suite in 2008.  The 
AFSOUTH deployment would include automatic equipment which 
could be monitored remotely and not require a large, military 
footprint.  A permanent installation, again with a small, 
non-military footprint, could be operated by select Costa 
Rican personnel.  Information from the site would be shared 
around the region via CNIES.  Senior GOCR security personnel 
are enthusiastic about the AFSOUTH TDY, and we believe would 
also endorse a permanent operation. 
LANGDALE