Anti-drug police said they have uncovered a criminal spy network that reached into the heart of the organized crime prosecutor’s office.
The agency, the Policia de Control de Drogas, the Ministerio Público and even the nation’s chief prosecutor, staged raids Wednesday to detain a judicial employee and a Colombian associate.
The arrests stemmed from a January drug case. During the investigation police learned that criminal gangs had penetrated the organized crime prosecutor’s office and had established an intelligence network that was headquartered in México but stretched as far as France and Colombia.
The judicial employee was identified by the last names of Valverde Fernández. He worked in the Pavas prosecutor’s office until July 2005 when he was assigned to the narcotics trafficking prosecutor’s office. In January the name of the office became the organized crime prosecutor.
Drug control police said that Valverde is accused of sending e-mails containing information about the names of suspects, vehicle license plate numbers, telephone taps and addresses of those being investigated. They also said he was in direct contact with principals of the drug trafficking organization and that he received money for the information.
Agents raided the man’s Aserrí home and his office on the second floor of the judicial courts building. He was detained at his office.
The Colombian man has the last name of Vallejo, anti-drug police said. Despite his nationality, he was associated with a Mexican trafficking organization, police said. He was detained at his home in Aserrí.
Prosecutors were seeking preventative detention for the two men in a hearing Wednesday afternoon before a judge.
“We had indications that there existed a flow of information to criminal organizations in exchange for money with the result that these organizations were not discovered and had impunity,” said Jorge Chavarría, the nation’s chief prosecutor.
Informants for organized crime are nothing new. Even the New York City Police Department has had problems with detectives selling out to criminals.
In fact, a United Nations agency addressed the same point Wednesday.
Corruption is a major impediment in combating illicit drug trafficking, said the independent United Nations body tasked with monitoring the production and consumption of narcotics worldwide in its annual report, while also warning that the production of synthetic stimulants is growing.
The vast profits generated in the drug markets often exceed the financial resources of state institutions, the Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board said in its report, adding that the criminal organizations with drug trafficking empires have in some cases become political forces with the power and authority of legitimate institutions.
The report also notes that cocaine abuse is spreading in Europe, possibly replacing amphetamines and ecstasy as the drug of choice in countries such as Denmark, Spain and the United Kingdom. Costa Rican police have seen an increase in the arrests of drug mules who were headed to Europe.