How to Ship Cocaine from Costa Rica to Nicaragua

An article which appeared in various sources including InsideCostaRica talks about a big cocaine bust near the Nicaraguan border. Here is a quote from that article.
Costa Rica's police has seized 560 kilograms of cocaine aboard a livestock truck, the minister de Seguridad Pública (MSP) said in a statement Tuesday. Police said the seizure was carried out late Monday in Cuajiniquil de la Cruz, in the province of Guanacaste, near the Peñas Blancas border crossing with Nicaragua. The truck was headed for the Nicaraguan border.
While not technically incorrect, misleading comes to mind. Looking into where the truck was, the following is from /www.cuajiniquil.com/cuajiniquil/index.html" target="_blank">cuajiniquil.com, the picture changes a bit.
Cuajiniquil is a small fishing village on the Pacific coast of northwest Costa Rica. This little town is located about 10 km from the Pan-American Highway, 56 km northwest of Liberia, and 50 km southwest of Nicaragua.
If that isn't enough to illustrate the problem, look at a map. While the implication was that the truck was headed for the border at Peñas Blancas, it is rather clear it was not. Most likely the cargo was destined for a boat trip to the Nicaraguan coast. As over half a ton of cocaine is even a lot more than Gringos in San Juan del Sur could consume during Semana Santa, it is realistic to assume this was just another hop on a trip from Colombia to the US. The two questions I like to see addressed are:
  1. Who was going to receive the shipment in Nicaragua?
  2. How did this cocaine get from Colombia to Costa Rica and, in particular, the north end of Costa Rica?

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many ways

If you read the national press, you will know that is the same techniques, using for drug traffickers in all countries.

Answer to #1

The drug traffic, clear is not controlled by nationals of each country, but for the international cartel . The small amounts of drug destinate for internal consumption, is provided for the same cartels. Also like is happening in the Rivas zone, are local band stealing drugs from the this traffic.

In one of the last operatives against this cartel, the Nicaraguan police discover that one of the last methods they are using ; are trucks loaded with cattle , not only disguising the drug, but creating a legitimate business activity to cover the operation. http://www.laprensa.com.ni/2011/05/17/nacionales/60706

So is more than understandable , that each country in the area have many people working in the drug traffic, some Costa Rican go south and ship north, Nicaraguans , Hondurans, Guatemalans , Salvadorians do the same, but what is not doubt, is that all this traffic are controlled by international cartels.

Answer to # 2

The easy answer; many ways!! submarines, fast boats, fishing boats, airplanes.

PS: Her in our country is a big risk of a Mexicanization of the drug crime, cartel hitman are increasing their activity and the same drug activity no matter the wonderful police job, also is in a raise.

I say risk of Mexicanization because the corruption in the state is the best ground to find collaborators or just buy officials. Till now all the corruptions acts related to the drug traffic , (including in the CSJ) look like have been ordered by high officials , because nobody has been prosecuted.

Anayzing Answer #2

On first blush, doesn't make sense. If I wanted to smuggle drugs from Colombia to the US, why would I take them from Colombia to Costa Rica by submarine, fast boat, fishing boat or airplane first, and then use a cattle truck to take them to a boat to take them to Nicaragua? I am not saying this isn't the case but we need to know more for this to make sense.

First, if the Nicaraguan government is so corrupt compared to Latin American standards, it would make more sense to skip the Costa Rica (and possibly Panama) part of the trip. This government corruption suggestion is clearly one of the reasons Honduras has been a major trans-shipment point. But, Costa Rica is supposed to be good guys. Of course, drug interdiction numbers for Nicaragua indicate it is pretty serious about addressing this issue.

Let's look at each suggestion specifically. Again, no answer but I feel it is worth speculation.

  • If a submarine was used, why involve a farm truck in Costa Rica? We don't know where the truck picked up the shipment but it would seem to make more sense that a transfer in the ocean rather than to land would be used.
  • Boats, maybe. Without knowing where the truck was loaded, this is a hard one to analyze any further.
  • Airplanes is interesting for a number of reasons. First, there are many more in-country flights in Costa Rica than in Nicaragua. If we look back to the Contra war, lots of supplies were shipped into John Hull's ranch in Guanacaste. So, if the truck came from the eastern part of Guanacaste (or some other location with a small airport), this seems like a possibility. Even without a formal airstrip, there are lots of virtually unpopulated places in Guanacaste where it would be easy to land a plane. With increased enforcement and cooperation on the land border, moving the shipment across the border by boat has merit. One further consideraiton is that with a relatively empty airspace over Nicaragua, it might make sense to transition for using airplanes to using boats. It would seem there are lots of fishing villages on the Nicaraguan coast such that it would be relatively easy to bring contraband up the coast and then across the Gulf of Fonseca.

This is, of course, all speculation but I personally find it both interesting. Additionally, the more people who decide to follow the play by play the more likely is that Nicaragua will at least become a less desirable place for this business.

I might suggest some thought

into an alternative to dealing with the illicit drug trade. Legalizing recreational drug use would lower the price, stop much of the crime associated with the trade, and allow for clean needles, "clean" drugs, more immediate medical care for overdose, and more than enough money left over from the "War on Drugs" expenses to offer detox, rehab, etc., should anyone desire it.

Mother's Little Helper anybody?

Have any of you considered that maybe the big pharmaceutical companies might be the main opposers of legalizing the 'unregulated' drugs for fear of losing their hold on the lucrative market of prescription drugs? What a drag it is getting old. 'Kids are different today' I hear ev'ry mother say. Mother needs something today to calm her down. And though she's not really ill there's a little yellow pill, she goes running for the shelter of a mother's little helper, and it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day. Doctor please some more of these, outside the door, she took four more. What a drag it is getting old..... And if you don't believe me , go ask Alice. Remember what the doormouse said: Feed your head, feed your head.

One of three

I agree Big Pharma is a serious player but don't leave out the booze industry and the cancer stick industry.

A Trifecta.

Yeah. The beauty of it is these guys get so much free advertisement for their products. I quit those habits long ago still two of my favorite songs : Smoking in the boys room and One bourbon, one scotch, one beer. Long live rock.

I agree 100%

Unfortunately, Nicaragua and the other countries between cocaine-producing countries and cocain-consuming countries are victims of policies of policies of the end point countries. If, for example, the US legalized cocaine use, Colombia could ship (and tax) cocaine directly to the US. While Nicaragua doesn't have a significant problem with local consumption now, this change would decrease law enforcement costs as well as decrease availability here.

A Colombian told me that drug use in Colombia is controlled by peer pressure rather than law enforcement. That makes sense. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that the countries such as Costa Rica and Nicaragua who are along the supply line would be permitted to make a change to legalization. To support this, you need to look no further than the resistance to Bolivia's desire to just legalize the tradition of chewing coca leaf.

Bottom line is that cocaine using countries are in denial that they are the whole problem. Until that changes (whether than is legalization and treatment or seriously addressing their addiction) Costa Rica, Nicaragua, et al will remain the victims.

Ditto, etc.

No citations unfortunately, and also off topic. But hey, I'm not alone.

Two items.

First, I've heard that Portugal about five years ago legalized/decriminalized all drugs. Because they couldn't afford to keep up with the never-ending money hole of trying to punish everyone and pretend that only degenerates use drugs.

Successful I guess.

Second, I recently heard a program from (I think) a Vancouver, B.C. expert. He said that 100% of the female drug abusers he has dealt with over the decades experienced abuse as children. Fewer men, but abuse was also common in their backgrounds.

The other main point I remember is that these people need drugs to feel either normal or to feel something.

One man in particular, whose story the doctor related, said that for years and years he could not find any peace in his life. Until the day he first tried heroin. He said that was the first time he felt normal. So he keeps using it.

Once again, sorry I don't have any citations.

Personally I agree with Ron Paul who in a "debate" with other proto-presidential candidates asked his audience why they needed laws against drugs. In effect, "Do you use them? Do you have a problem? Do you want to have a drug problem?"

Nope. Peer pressure, social norms, decent upbringing, no need to get into that. Most people simply do other stuff.

The laws in fact, are irrelevant to "the drug problem". Or they would have made it go away. Don't you think?

Militarizing the situation seems much worse.


No Sniveling!

Found one link...

KUOW Speakers' Forum 01/20/2011 (audio available on demand)

Gabor Mate is a doctor whose patients die young. They're hardcore drug addicts in Vancouver, BC. Dr. Mate is a staff physician at the only supervised injection site in North America, where addicts go to inject drugs and get medical care. "Nothing sways them from their habit," Mate writes. "Not illness. Not the sacrifice of love and relationship. Not the loss of all earthly goods. Not the crushing of their dignity. Not the fear of dying." Dr. Mate says drugs don't cause addiction, our brains do. He says we live in a society full of addicts and talks about his own slavish addictions to shopping and working, which, he says, stimulate his brain the way heroin stimulates others' — and result from his own mental illness. He explains why, if he had to come up with a way to keep drug addicts addicted, he'd invent the War on Drugs.

Dr. Gabor Mate is the author of several books including "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction." He spoke at Town Hall Seattle on January 14, 2010. His talk was presented as part of Town Hall's Future of Health Lecture Series with Elliott Bay Book Company.

See also: Gabor Maté is a Hungarian-born Canadian physician who specializes in the study and treatment of addiction and is also widely recognized for his unique perspective on Attention Deficit Disorder and his firmly held belief in the connection between mind and body health.


No Sniveling!

"Dr. Mate says drugs don't cause addiction, our brains do"

Interesting line. I would suggest that the life long quest to repeat the euforia of the very first line of cocaine you ever had, was in fact caused by.......the cocaine you used the very first time!! Semantics, or a cool way to make a lot of money "treating" addicts or selling books!!

I think that some of the countries in Asia that tried...

...legalization had appalling problems. They turned around and started hanging people for drug smuggling. I suspect the laws have to be quite a bit more draconian against the dealers, or the legal entity legalizes the drugs. Neither solution is really a good solution. Human life is messy, and some things don't have clear and perpetually useful resolutions.

Drug users and drug use defenders seem to be capable of all sorts of rationalizations. I had a friend in NYC who was very obviously an alcoholic to all people close to him, but who argued he wasn't because he could stop drinking to recover his health when he needed to.

I also don't buy the statistics based on sexual abuse -- rather a large number of people were abused who didn't become drug users and a fair number of people exaggerate their abuse or lie about it all together, especially if looking for pity. Do the drugs fix anything or complicate the person's life even more? A guy I knew on line talked about a cousin of his who'd died young because of heroin -- perhaps as good an outcome as possible for that particular woman, but dubious as a good outcome generically.

Drugs weren't illegalized at the national level in the US until the early 1930s, and anti-marijuana laws were promoted by appeals to bigotry and exaggerations of the effects (whatever pot does, getting people agitated is really rare and generally only with people with prior psychological problems). The saner states in the US are decriminalizing pot, not completely legalizing it, though.

One can argue that people should be allowed to destroy their lives in their own ways, but that's a hard decision that the legalization sentimentalists tend to avoid considering. The Asian country that tried the experiment said that they lost too many young people.

I also rather like one Turkish response to Midnight Express: "We took a drug smuggler and turned him into a successful writer and contributing citizen. Obviously, he's a testament to the success of Turkish drug law and prison treatment of drug smugglers."

Rebecca Brown

Here's one for you

Not So Simple . .

Look at the world-wide problem we have with alcohol abuse.

If mis-use of alcohol, smoking and obesity were removed from the health care equation we might be able to afford some form of universal care.

Before everyone jumps on me, I understand that this is just a small part of the problem of health care affordability.

I'm afraid that easy availability of additional drugs -while putting more of the drug revenue into government hands- would create as many problems, or more, than legalization would solve. You and I might smoke some legal weed from time to time, but there are going to be those who puff, puff, puff, all day long.

And I'm not sure the drug money would be any better spent than it is now . . . .

Decriminalization vs. Promotion

Tobacco and alcohol is big business. Huge sums of money are spent on promotion. You could add fast food to this same list. Would people really elect to eat unhealthy food at the level they currently do if it was not promoted the way it is?

I don't have the data here but some years ago a program was established for heroin (I think) addicts to get free drugs from the government. There was also the option for treatment if they so desired. The result was less crime and more people seriously addressing their problem.

As for "weed addiciton", first of all, it does not exist. That is, it is not addictive like cocaine or sugar is. I have a friend I have known for 30 years. He used to smoke a lot of weed. Some time ago (probably 10 years) he recognized that it was really detracting from having a life and addressed it. If use had not been illegal, my guess is that this step would have been taken much earlier by him.

The UK has had programs for stabilizing drug users

I don't know if they're still on-going or not. Methadone was used in the US to treat heroin addicts, as a substitute drug, though it isn't any less addicting than other opiates (and has been used as a painkiller, sometimes with fatal results as the dosage for pain relief is very close to the lethal dose).

Some studies of Prohibition in the US indicated that alcohol related health issues did decline during the period. Repeal was as much about the side effect of creating a criminal industry as anything else.

As for why the switch from the subs to the smaller vehicles and vessels, the US Coast Guard probably tends to search the larger ships and subs can be physically attacked by the US Navy if they're unidentified inside US territorial waters. Better to break up the shipments and bring them in smaller lots.

I doubt that Costa Rica cares -- drug use tends to be much harder on poorer communities than richer ones, and if the drugs are just passing through, not a problem for them at all. Someone said that most of the Costa Rica seizures were actually US Navy seizures at the sea, just bringing in the boats to a Costa Rica port.

In New York, one of the urban legends was of poor people killing drug dealers in their communities -- I met some young kids who hung out on the Columbia U campus who claimed to have killed drug pushers themselves. Whether or not anyone actually did this, it certainly was something the kids thought was a good thing to do. I understand that three Colombians were killed out on the Atlantic Coast.

Lots of jurisdictions in the US tolerate marijuana, as long as it's grown for home use only, not for sale.

Rebecca Brown

End the War on Drugs - new Avaaz petition

Timely. This week, I received this link to a petition to end the war on drugs from the highly effective Avaaz organization.
In days, we could finally see the beginning of the end of the ‘war on drugs’. This expensive war has completely failed to curb the plague of drug addiction, while costing countless lives, devastating communities, and funneling trillions of dollars into violent organized crime networks.

Experts all agree that the most sensible policy is to regulate, but politicians are afraid to touch the issue. In days, a global commission including former heads of state and foreign policy chiefs of the UN, EU, US, Brazil, Mexico and more will break the taboo and publicly call for new approaches including decriminalization and regulation of drugs.

This could be a once-in-a-generation tipping-point moment -- if enough of us call for an end to this madness. Politicians say they understand that the war on drugs has failed, but claim the public isn't ready for an alternative. Let's show them we not only accept a sane and humane policy -- we demand it. Sign the petition and share with everyone --if we reach 1 million voices, it will be personally delivered to world leaders by the global commission.
The petition is addressed to the head of the United Nations and all heads of state. More information and the petition itself are here on the Avaaz website.

Avaaz is a global web movement to bring people-powered politics to decision-making everywhere.

I kive in Nicaragua

Why would I want to know how to ship from Costa RICAçç??

many companies..

Drug traffic is not a one big company, that establish one route one method of shipping the drug.

What for you don make sense, is what for them (all cartels) is working.

If drug traffickers use just one route or one method , would be easier to stop the smuggling of drugs, but using lot of ways to smuggle drug and using many countries to change the route and also like storages ; is the best strategy to avoid the seized of must shipments . In this strategy the best way to work is involving many people as possible, because is like a big conspiracy structure, where most of them don't know each other. So you find Hondurans coming to Nicaragua to pick up drug and Nicaraguans transporting drug to Honduras. The same work in all the countries in the area, but Mexicans are the ones that are most present , because have the big cartels.

Really i don't know what is the mean of the discussion. Finding Costa Rica guilty of the drug smuggling in Nicaragua? That will be ridiculous.

In one of many articles addressing drugs problem from the sense of war between nations, this matter take another completely meaning. And maybe for some will look like another conspiracy theory. But the use of drug like a weapon is there; Cuba build a strong structure to smuggle drug into the US, not just for money gain but for a weakening effect in the american system. Today is many proof that Venezuela is one of the main drugs airstrip in south america. Somebody could think that with the antagonism and hate of Venezuela caudillo, he is willing to stop drug smuggling to US ?

So maybe in that sense i could believe Costa Ricans are embarked in a drug strategy war against Nicaragua, because in the other fronts they have lot of advantage.

I agree

You said "Really i don't know what is the mean of the discussion."

I have to agree and I don't think anything I can say will change that for you. Let me just say that "what I mean" doesn't have anything to do with conspiracy theories involving an assortment of politics of governments.