Substantial taxes give smugglers a profitable opportunity

This is part of the load that was confiscated on Ruta 32. Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública/Paul Gamboa

Nearly every week Costa Rican police discover a shipment of untaxed alcohol and confiscate the load.

Smugglers find that the substantial taxes imposed by Costa Rica give them a profitable opportunity. Most of the imported alcohol comes from Panamá. However, there are home-grown bootleggers, too.

The bootleggers can produce a bottle that appears to be the true liquor. But there is a danger because backyard stills do not have the quality controls of commercial operations. Health officials periodically warn of adulterated or fake alcohol in the marketplace.

Two man ran afoul of police on Ruta 32 from Limón in the latest case of presumed smuggling. The men had 12 cases of various types of alcohol in their vehicle, but they lacked a sales receipt. That is why the Fuerza Pública and the Policía de Tránsito confiscated the load and turned the men over to prosecutors.

Officers assumed that the alcohol somehow came across the border from Panamá at the loosely controlled border south of Sixaola.

Meanwhile, health officials are still seeking the manufacturers of bottles of Azteca vodka because the alcohol contained a percentage of methanol that was too high for human consumption. The maker could not be located at the address written on the bottle label, and officials presume the bottles were bootlegged.

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