Government agencies rake in the cash from confiscated goods

Casa Presidencial released this undated photo of a
confiscated horse being auctioned.

Costa Rican officials said Monday that they have raised more than 150 million colons in two years by auctioning confiscated automobiles and other miscellaneous items.

They also announced that they will auction 45 more cars in November and 20 luxury vehicles in December.

All of the proceeds from these auctions will be put into the government’s efforts to fight organized crime and drug trafficking, a press release said.

The majority of these funds will go towards preventing people from starting on drugs and alcohol as well as rehabilitating addicts. Less than a third of the money will go towards the police agencies that fight organized crime.

A Casa Presidencial spokesperson explained that when a drug trafficker is arrested, all of his property is confiscated by the investigators. If a judge eventually says that the trafficker is guilty, then the government sells that person’s property.

A revision of this law in 2009 requires that assets confiscated from criminals be sold and the proceeds divided among numerous governmental organizations. The Instituto Costarricense sobre Drogas is one of these groups and is one of the primary beneficiaries.

The institute is a task force in the executive branch. Its purpose is to implement policies and strategies to prevent people from using drugs in addition to treating and rehabilitating people who are on drugs. The institute attempts to do this mostly by organizing education programs for students.

An institute press release says that over the past two years the institute has sold 31 cars, 24 trucks and vans and other items for a total profit of almost 162 million colons, or about $324,000. This only lists some of the property confiscated and sold.

Just shy of 100 million colons came from the automobiles, but the group also sold 28 tons of confiscated scrap metal and 22 tons of confiscated fish. They also sold 18 horses for more than 55 million colons.

Although the drug law dictates specific instructions for certain kinds of items, overall 60 percent of the proceeds will go to prevention programs, 30 percent to repressive programs, 10 percent to the institute and 10 to maintaining the confiscated property.

The lion’s share of the prevention program money will go to the Instituto sobre Alcoholismo y F√°rmacodependencia, a task force in the health ministry. This institute is very similar to the drug institute except that it focuses on preventing people from abusing alcohol and prescription drugs.

The repressive program funding goes to the security ministry, which is in charge of many police agencies in the country. This money will be what goes to the police forces that are fighting organized and drug crime.

A spokesperson said that dates for the two auctions have yet to be determined. They will auction 45 cars sometime this month and 20 luxury vehicles in December.

Individuals or companies are able to participate in the auctions, but those who are buying a vehicle from these auctions must register on the institute’s Web site. Those looking to participate must also submit a photocopy of their identification card, personal crime records, a utilities bill and a notarized affidavit that there is not a drug trafficking case pending against him or her.

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