QCOSTARICA – Although he is in favor of approving an asset forfeiture law to quickly confiscate money and assets from drug traffickers, President Rodrigo Chaves recognizes that the hands of his government are tied.
Chaves explained that it is not possible to access drug traffickers’ assets quickly and at the same time comply with due process and respect basic rights.
“The fight against drug trafficking is frontal. Taking away their farms, cars, luxury houses, and yachts would be fabulous and deserved, but the issue is how to do it? We cannot put someone in jail and take away their possessions and money without violating people’s fundamental rights,” Chaves said.
At this time, for the State to access the assets of drug traffickers, there must be a final court ruling against the offenders.
However, the Minister of Public Security, Mario Zamora, pointed out that a bill will be presented so that in crimes of drug trafficking and terrorism, assets (property and money) can be accessed, as long as the complaint has been brought to trial.
For some time now, the profits from drug trafficking in Costa Rica have become so substantial that traffickers have begun to utilize scales and counting machines instead of counting the money manually. This method is faster, easier, and simpler.
This demonstrates the urgent need to update the laws on seizure and confiscation of assets from the sale of drugs, according to experts.
No figures are publicly available for 2023.
In 2022, the Instituto Costarricense de Drogas (ICD) – Costa Rican Drug Institute – reported the seizure of only ¢407 million colones and US$1.6 million dollars. Not much when compared to the overall size of the illegal drug market in Costa Rica.