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Costa Rica Turns to Prevention as Key Weapon to Fight Drug Onslaught

ISSN:1089-1560
LADB Article ID: 80240
Category/Department: Costa Rica
Date: 2017-03-16
By: George Rodríguez

Costa Rica, a country that historically has prioritized social investment over security spending, is now challenged by the violence stemming from the onslaught of criminal activity––mostly drug trafficking––that is gripping Central America. A major component of this security challenge is the threat the drug problem poses to the country’s young people, especially those in vulnerable social and economic situations, many of whom fall prey to trafficking structures. In Costa Rica, homicide statistics have reached their highest level so far: 11.8 per 100,000 last year, from 6.3 per 100,000 in 2000. In the 2010-2016 period, homicides went from 461 to 580 a year, a statistic that, for this country’s traditional security standards, is alarming. Most of the drug-related homicides are committed by hitmen in the 15-30 age group, a socially vulnerable population segment that includes school dropouts, unemployed youngsters, members of dysfunctional families (often, “drug families”), and small outfits engaged in drug retailing, according to local authorities

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