Raids Tuesday put new light on cocaine use here

Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública Here are the packages of cocaine confiscated just after Christmas last year.

Anti-drug police have known since at least last August that a gang was involved in bringing drugs from Panamá into the country for consumption here.

Tuesday morning they acted to shut down the operation. They conducted five raids and detained as many individuals, including a man they identified as the leader of the gang.

He was identified by the last names of Gómez Pérez and was known to his associates as El Nariz, meaning The Nose. He is Colombian with residency here.

Raids took place in Rafael Abajo de Desamparados, Paso Canoas, Corredores, San Ramón de Río Claro in Golfito and San Rafael de Heredia.

In all, 14 persons have been detained since police stopped three men at a checkpoint in Bahía Ballena last Aug. 9. The vehicle was carrying $16,400, said agents, who added that the money was the payoff for bringing drugs to San José.

The consensus had been that cocaine brought into Costa Rica mainly had been the payoff for supplying oceangoing smugglers with fuel, food and water. These quantities of cocaine were sold cheaply or converted to crack because there was so much to put into the local market, so the theory went.

Tuesday’s arrests suggests that this belief was not completely true. Instead, there appears to be a    thriving market here for the drug.

Three days after Christmas in Corredores, Paso Canoas, agents made another arrest. They stopped a microbus carrying 109 kilos of cocaine and detained the driver.

Then last Jan. 11 the Fuerza Pública in Corredores stopped another vehicle, found 10 kilos of cocaine and detained two more persons.

The country’s southern border is fairly porous, and the drugs moved easily from Panamá and then to the Central Valley with various light vehicles and even informal taxi drivers.

The United States, Canada and countries in Europe have been criticized for their drug consumption. But now it appears that consumption also is a problem here.

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