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Synthetic Drugs: Costa Rica’s New Nightmare

LADB Article ID: 80298
Category/Department: Costa Rica
Date: 2017-05-18
By: George Rodríguez

“Pink cocaine,” “cat,” “K2,” “spice”––those are some of the names for Costa Rica’s new nightmare: synthetic drugs. Their use among adolescents and young adults is spiraling in this Central American nation, adding a new security and public health issue to the already worrisome level of criminal activities derived from drug trafficking. Costa Rica is caught, as are its neighbors, in the northbound flow of drugs destined mainly for the US and in lesser volumes to European destinations. With that flow comes drug-related violence. Territorial gang wars––including daily executions by hitmen, and bajonazos, as robberies of an organization’s drugs by a rival group are known––are being waged throughout Central America, particularly in the notoriously violent Northern Triangle that encompasses El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. In addition to being the corridor for the cocaine produced in South America and increasingly, for the marijuana grown in Jamaica, the Central American isthmus is increasingly turning into an area for storage and re-shipment. As in other countries along the way, portions of the drug loads remain in Costa Rica, since the local criminal teams working for international networks––guaranteeing transport, storage infrastructure, and re-shipment––are paid in kind, thus promoting the expansion of the local market.

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