QCOSTARICA — In a report released Wednesday, November 15, the United States Department of the Treasury described Costa Rican, Gilbert Hernán of Los Angeles Bell Fernández, known as “Macho Coca,” as one of the most notorious and important drug traffickers in the region.
This is the first time that a Costa Rican national has been included on the United States blacklist.
As indicated by the deputy prosecutor of the Public Ministry, Mauricio Boraschi and the director of the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ), Randall Zúñiga in a press conference called by the two national institutions to discuss the issue this morning, “Bell Fernandez became the first Costa Rican to enter this black list of people sanctioned by the United States OFAC”.
US authorities accuse Macho Coca” of having started out as a fisherman who later managed to “generate multiple investments in construction.”
As Zúñiga pointed out in this Wednesday’s press conference: “This person has managed to remain publicly unnoticed, because he has a ringleader role, because he gives the orders of a third party. He takes great care in his cell phone communications and prevents him from connecting with some of the people, which is why it has been difficult to reach him, but we do know about the evidence that the DEA has about him.”
Regarding the Tico, the United States government noted that “he is one of the most prolific drug traffickers in Limón, moving large quantities of cocaine; He is also known as one of the most violent traffickers in the province.”
Bell Fernández has a fishing businesses, and seafood marketing and was even linked to building a private dock in Limón.
The U.S. government said it froze Bell’s properties or interests in properties that are located within the United States or in the possession or control of US persons.
Additionally, “any entity that is owned directly or indirectly, individually or jointly, 50 percent or more by a blocked person is blocked. Unless there is a license published generally or specifically by OFAC, or is exempt, OFAC regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or persons within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interest in property of designated or blocked persons,” said the statement.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control, a financial intelligence and enforcement agency of the U.S. Treasury Department, was in charge of issuing the warning while noting that “Macho Coca” has played an important role in the recent transformation of Costa Rica into an important transit center for drug trafficking.
“Today’s action is part of a government-wide effort to counter the global threat posed by illicit drug trafficking into the United States, which is killing tens of thousands of Americans annually, as well as countless non-fatal overdoses. OFAC, in coordination with its U.S. government partners and foreign counterparts, will continue to target and seek accountability for foreign illicit drug actors,” the Treasury Department reported.
U.S. authorities added that: “OFAC designated Bell pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 14059 for having engaged, or attempted to engage in, activities or transactions that have materially contributed to, or pose a significant material risk to, the international proliferation of drugs. illegal activities or their means of production. Today’s action is the result of close collaboration with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) office in Costa Rica and Costa Rican authorities.”
This is an unprecedented action in Costa Rica. “Macho Coca” was arrested by Costa Rican authorities in 2015 on drug-related charges.