Stiffer penalties being sought for smuggling

Two lawmakers have introduced a measure to penalize smuggling. The proposal would establish a prison term of five years for anyone smuggling in merchandise worth more than $50,000.

The lawmakers are Rolando González and Ottón Solís.

The prison time also would extend to those who avoid customs controls for any type of merchandise coming in or leaving the country.

The measure also would include a fine five times the value of the merchandise being smuggled.

An announcement of the bill also claimed that 53 percent of the Costa Rica population practices some form of smuggling, although the source of this statistic was not given.

Certainly a high percentage of expats avoid customs controls to bring in electronics, medicines and other items that are not found easily here. Controls are lax at the major airports where most expats already have a $500 exemption from customs duty.

Almost daily police stop trucks and cars filled with bottles of alcohol, cigarettes, clothing or home appliances. The bulk of the smuggled material comes from Panamá.

A lot of the medicines and some clothing come from Nicaragua.

A truck loaded with smuggled alcohol can easily

This was a recent confiscation of medicines smuggled from Nicaragua.

This was a recent confiscation of medicines smuggled from Nicaragua.

reach the $60,000 threshold.

González also pointed out the public health menace from smuggled goods, which may not be what the label says.

The measure will go to committee, considering that the government is trying desperately to collect more money, prospects for passage appear to be good. Current penalties for most smuggling now are administrative actions.

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