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Viewing cable 08SANJOSE881, COSTA RICA INCSR REPORT 2008-2009 PART I, DRUGS AND

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08SANJOSE881 2008-11-12 22:10 2011-03-07 18:06 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/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
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0881/01 3172207
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 122207Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0254
INFO RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEABND/DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMIN HQ WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000881 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR INL JOHN LYLE AND WHA/CEN 
JUSTICE FOR OIA, AFMLS, NDDS 
TREASURY FOR FINCEN 
DEA FOR OILS AND OFFICE OF DIVERSION CONTROL 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: SNAR CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA INCSR REPORT 2008-2009 PART I, DRUGS AND 
CHEMICAL CONTROL 
 
REF: STATE 100970 
 
1. (U) The text of Costa Rica's 2008-2009 INCSR Part I is below. 
Costa Rica 
I. Summary 
Costa Rica continues to be an increasingly important transit point 
for narcotics destined for the United States and Europe.  Drug 
seizures for 2008, though not as high as 2007, remain high during 
the third year of the Arias administration. Local consumption of 
illicit narcotics, particularly crack, is growing at an alarming 
rate, along with the continued rise in drug-related violent crimes. 
In 2008 the Costa Rican Coast Guard (SNGC), with minimal INL 
investments in their communication and navigation ability, 
capitalized on their increased coordination capabilities to make 
several key interdictions with USG assistance.  Costa Rica is a 
party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. 
II. Status of Country 
Costa Rica's position on the isthmus linking Colombia with the 
United States, its long Atlantic and Pacific coastlines, and its 
jurisdiction over the Cocos Islands make it vulnerable to drug 
transshipment for South American cocaine and heroin destined 
primarily for the United States.  The Government of Costa Rica 
(GOCR) closely and effectively cooperates with the USG in combating 
narcotics trafficked by land, sea, and air.  Costa Rica also has a 
stringent governmental licensing process for the importation and 
distribution of controlled precursor chemicals. 
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2008 
Policy Initiatives.  The Arias Administration named a new Minister 
of Public Security (MPS) in 2008.  Under the new leadership, the MPS 
continued its effective cooperation with the USG to interdict 
narcotics.  Of note, the Ministry has begun a National Plan to 
Combat Crack consumption in Costa Rica.  In July and August, the MPS 
initiated the first stage of this plan with impressive interdiction 
results of 22,765 doses of crack, 11,871 marijuana plants, 218 kilos 
of cocaine, and 12,104 arrests.  The Ministry, with USG assistance, 
has also begun a container inspection program at the Caribbean port 
of Limon.  Additionally, the executive branch has sent organized 
crime bill legislation to the GOCR's national assembly for 
consideration.  Finally, the SNGC, albeit with USG assistance, made 
some progress in addressing communications and navigations gaps. 
Accomplishments.  Continued close bilateral cooperation and improved 
intra-GOCR coordination yielded impressive counternarcotics 
successes in 2008.  Costa Rican authorities seized 16 metric tons 
(MT) of cocaine, of which 4 MT were seized on land or air and 12 MT 
seized in joint maritime interdiction operations with U.S. law 
enforcement.  The GOCR also seized over 79,000 doses of crack 
cocaine, 33.1 kilograms (kg) of heroin, 4.5 tons of processed 
marijuana, and eradicated over 1.3 million marijuana plants. 
Additionally, Costa Rican authorities confiscated nearly $2 million 
in U.S. and local currency.  Though fewer than in 2007, the nearly 
13,000 drug-related arrests made in 2008 are more than twice the 
amount made three years ago during the previous administration. 
While no methamphetamine laboratories were detected in 2008, the 
GOCR has been active in trying to verify the identity of chemical 
precursor importers to ensure legitimacy.  In a case carried over 
from 2007, the government cancelled a shipment of chemical 
precursors due to irregularities in the importing company and the 
lack of proper documentation and permits. 
Law Enforcement Efforts.  Costa Rican counternarcotics efforts are 
carried out by both the judicial branch (Judicial Investigative 
Police-OIJ) and the executive (Ministry of Public Security's Drug 
Control Police-PCD).  Although the Arias Administration's plan to 
add 4000 new police officers to its force generated temporary 
increases in the numbers of cops on the street, the total number of 
police in the force at the end of 2008 stands at just above 10,000, 
similar to the level of 2007.  Retention problems continue to plague 
the over-stretched force, with recruiting just keeping pace with 
retirement and attrition.  The national legislature is expected to 
pass terrorist financing and reformed money laundering legislation 
by early 2009. 
Corruption.  As a matter of policy, no senior GOCR official or the 
GOCR itself, encourages or facilitates the illicit production or 
distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled 
substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug 
transactions.  A strict law against illicit enrichment was enacted 
in 2006 in response to unprecedented corruption scandals involving 
three ex-presidents.  Although only one of the ex-presidents' cases 
(which date from 2004) has reached trial, Costa Rican authorities 
appear committed to combating public corruption.  The GOCR 
conscientiously investigates allegations of official corruption or 
abuse. 
Agreements and Treaties.  Costa Rica is a party to the 1988 UN Drug 
Convention, the 1961 Single Convention as amended by its 1972 
Protocol, and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.  Costa 
Rica is also a party to the UN Convention against Transnational 
 
Organized Crime and its three protocols, the UN Convention against 
Corruption, the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, the 
Inter-American Convention on Extradition, the Inter-American 
Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, the 
Inter-American Convention against Terrorism, and the Inter-American 
Convention against Trafficking in Illegal Firearms.  The 1999 
bilateral Maritime Counter Drug Cooperation Agreement, and its 
Ship-Rider program resulted in large seizures at sea during 2008. 
The 1991 United States-Costa Rican extradition treaty was again 
actively used in 2008.  Costa Rica ratified a bilateral stolen 
vehicles treaty in 2002.  Costa Rica and the United States are also 
parties to bilateral drug information and intelligence sharing 
agreements dating from 1975 and 1976.  Costa Rica is a member of the 
Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and the Egmont Group, but must 
pass a terrorist financing law before March 2009 to remain in the 
Egmont Group.  It is a member of the Inter-American Drug Abuse 
Control Commission of the Organization of American States 
(OAS/CICAD).  Costa Rica signed the Caribbean regional maritime 
counter narcotics agreement in April 2003, and is currently taking 
the steps necessary to bring the agreement into force.  In 2008, 
Costa Rica also played an active role in developing and implementing 
the regional security strategy developed by the Central American 
Security Commission. 
 
Cultivation/Production.  Costa Rica produces low quality marijuana 
but no other illicit drug crops or synthetic drugs.  However, the 
GOCR estimates there are 400,000 marijuana users in the country. 
Drug Flow/Transit.  In 2008, smaller land-based shipments of 50-500 
kg of cocaine continued, as did the number of larger shipments 
(500-1500 kg).  Trafficking of narcotics by maritime routes remained 
steady with nearly 12 MT (slightly lower than last year's amount) of 
cocaine seized at sea during joint GOCR-USG operations.  Traffickers 
continue to use Costa Rican-flagged fishing boats to smuggle 
multi-ton shipments of drugs and to provide fuel for go-fast boats, 
with continued emphasis on the Pacific routes.  Traffickers have 
also continued the smuggling of drugs through the postal system, 
international courier services and via individual passengers 
("mules") on international flights in/out of the country. 
Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction.  The Prevention Unit of the 
Instituto Costarricense sobre Drogas (ICD) oversees drug prevention 
efforts and educational programs throughout the country.  The ICD 
and the Ministry of Education continued to distribute updated 
demand-reduction materials to all school children in 2008.  In 2008, 
PCD continued to publicize its special phone-in number (176) in 
their demand-reduction materials, to encourage citizens to report 
drug-related activity in their neighborhoods while remaining safely 
anonymous.  The PCD considers the 176 phone-in program to be an 
excellent source of information that is analyzed and often leads to 
arrests. 
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs 
The Merida Initiative.  With the funds approved for the first year 
of the three-year Merida Initiative, Costa Rica will receive $4.3 
million in direct bilateral assistance to improve drug interdiction 
and law enforcement capabilities, with an emphasis on increased 
regional cooperation.  More than half of the FY 2008 funds will go 
to modernizing or renovating the aging SNGC.  A significant amount 
of money will go to improving police communications and movement 
capabilities, while border inspection equipment will be purchased to 
help detect drugs in vehicles and trailers.  Costa Rica will also 
receive regional Merida assistance in areas such as firearms 
tracing, gang prevention, and educational and cultural exchanges. 
Bilateral Cooperation.  While land-based interdiction, especially 
effective use of border checkpoints, remains important to U.S. 
strategy, U.S. assistance has focused resources on interdicting 
maritime-based narcotics shipments.  The U.S. supported the SNGC's 
efforts to improve interdiction by providing technical assistance 
and equipment.  The U.S. is also supporting reforms in police 
training. 
The Road Ahead.  In the year ahead, Costa Rica intends to attack 
maritime trafficking both through its own direct efforts and through 
continued collaboration with the USG.  The projected increase in 
number and improved training of police should enable the GOCR to 
more successfully fight crime, including trafficking. 
CIANCHETTE