Q COSTA RICA NEWS – Costa Rica’s Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ), in conjunction with Honduran authorities, busted a transnational drug ring allegedly involving over a dozen police officers from the two countries, raising suspicion that the operation was connected to the recent capture in Costa Rica of Honduran drug kingpin Wilter Blanco Ruíz, which occurred the day before the raids.
On Wednesday (November 23) authorities in Honduras and Costa Rica carried out simultaneous raids against a drug trafficking network known as “The Bigheads” (Los Cabezones), which according to Costa Rican officials is led by a man who goes by the same alias, reported La Prensa.
In 31 raids in La Cruz and Liberia, in Guanacaste, and Upala, en Alajuela, 36 suspects, including ten Costa Rican police officers, were captured during 31 raids in the northern provinces of Guanacaste and Alajuela, reported La Nación.
The La Nacion report says that among the 10 police officials were five of the Fuerza Pública (general police force), two of the Tourist Police (Policía Turística), two Traffic police officials (Policía de Tránsito) and one Coast Guard (Guardacostas) official.
The two tourist police officials were identified by their last names: Vanegas Zúñiga and Martínez Castro; the traffic officials: Cambronero Romero and González Ruiz; the Fuerza Publica officials: Guido Chavarría, Obregón Hernández, Chavarría Gonzaga, Vanegas Morales and Ruiz Mojica; and the Coast Guard official: Vílchez Bejarano.
Walter Espinoza, director of OIJ, said that the police officers alerted the drug traffickers to security checkpoints and provided general advice as to how to avoid being detection while smuggling the drugs.
“Part of the trafficking activity of the criminal organization involved movement over land routes, police officers ensured the safety of transit of cocaine, warned of possible checkpoints or areas of surveillance and gave advice to evade actions of other police ‘courageous officials’, and received money as a result of their participation,” explained Espinoza.
Espinoza added that, once the cocaine shipments reached Costa Rica’s northern border, they reportedly passed through Nicaragua before reaching a storage centre in Honduras, where the drugs were prepared to be sent to the United States.
In Honduras, the Attorney General’s Office conducted 10 raids in four cities — including the capital city, Tegucigalpa — that resulted in the arrest of at least two police officers and one former officer.
It is unclear how exactly the bust of the “Bigheads” drug trafficking ring is connected to Blanco Ruíz’s capture, if it is at all. But Blanco Ruíz’s decision to flee to Costa Rica last month after the US government announced he was under investigation suggests he had contacts in the country that he felt he could rely on to stay safe. At least one news outlet reported that he even planned to use Costa Rica as a “base of operations.”
Sources: La Nacion (Costa Rica), La Prensa (Honduras), Insightcrime.org