• Cielo Vista

Drug Seizures Grease Justice System’s Wheels

May 2, 2008

While the country’s law enforcement agencies flounder in the alarming crime wave, there is one area they attack swimmingly: drug trafficking.

Using an aggressive model of asset seizures, influenced by a similar system practiced in Colombia, the country’s Drug Institute (ICD) administers money and properties taken from drug traffickers and money launderers and redirects them to narcotics enforcement and treatment programs.

“We have accounts in all the major currencies – colones, dollars and euros,” said Director Mauricio Boraschi. “It’s a major front in the battle against drugs.”

During the last year alone, $5.5 million was confiscated, adding to the now $12.3 million the ICD deposits, invests and distributes to various law enforcement and treatment agencies.

The program gives law enforcement an incentive because the agencies involved gain monetarily and resource-wise from their actions. While seized assets have to be returned to the owners if they are absolved of any crimes, the law allows the agency to keep the interest, dividends and other investment earnings on the original seizures. If convicted, all of the trafficker’s assets are permanently transferred into government hands.

The ICD, which was created in 2002 after the passage of a new drug law, also donates, loans and auctions off properties, cars, boats and planes confiscated from narcotics dealers.

Boraschi said half of the planes in the arsenal of the Public Security Ministry’s aerial vigilance department, basically a civilian air force, come from narco seizures.

“We loan cars daily to police,” he said. “The Public Security Ministry is using roughly 100 vehicles and the Judicial Investigation Police 40 that were seized from traffickers. There are also seized houses we use as police bases, rehab centers.”

Currently, the ICD has 678 vehicles in its possession, 220 of which are being used by different law enforcement agencies. The agency declined to provide a list to The Tico Times, citing the potential for compromising law enforcement operations and encouraging retaliation.

As established by law, 60% of ICD’s sanctioned seizures go to the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Institute (IAFA) for treatment programs, 30% to the National Police, Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) and Drug Control Police, and 10% to administer and invest the funds.

IAFA is using some drug money to construct a court-ordered, 60-bed treatment facility for drug-addicted street children in the eastern San Pedro suburb of San José.

Boraschi said the equipment seized can also be auctioned off to buy bulletproof jackets, computers and surveillance equipment, depending on the particular needs of each agency.

While narco assets are invested and spent, seized drugs are destroyed in an incinerator in Cartago province, the director said. Their destruction, at a cost of roughly $1,000 per ton, is paid for with money raised in the asset seizure program.

“It’s all guaranteed that not even a trace of the drugs will remain,” Boraschi said. “And we (destroy) it as fast as possible because it’s pretty risky to keep the drugs indefinitely in the Judicial Investigation Police warehouses.”

 

Facebook Comments

You may be interested

Costa Rica allocates $3.35 million for port infrastructure in Limón
Costa Rica
5 views
Costa Rica
5 views

Costa Rica allocates $3.35 million for port infrastructure in Limón

Alejandro Zúñiga - May 20, 2019

The Atlantic Port Authority (JAPDEVA) will manage more than $3.35 million as it explores four projects to support the economy…

Phones made by Huawei impacted by U.S. blacklist
News
42 views
News
42 views

Phones made by Huawei impacted by U.S. blacklist

Alejandro Zúñiga - May 20, 2019

By some estimates, Huawei smartphones are the most popular brand in Costa Rica. But the hundreds of thousands of Costa…

Sofía Quirós directs the first feature film from Costa Rica at Cannes
Arts & Culture
31 views
Arts & Culture
31 views

Sofía Quirós directs the first feature film from Costa Rica at Cannes

Esther Sanchez / AFP - May 20, 2019

With a tale about the struggles of a teenager, in which death is like a “game,” the director Sofía Quirós…

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!