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MINAE raises alarm about drug trafficking in Costa Rica’s protected land

May 17, 2019

The Environment and Energy Ministry (MINAE) has requested assistance from the Public Security Ministry in the face of increased drug trafficking through Protected Wildlife Areas.

The call for help followed a recent confrontation that took place in Corcovado National Park between alleged drug traffickers and park rangers.

After a meeting on Wednesday, the Deputy Minister of Environment and security authorities agreed on the creation of a “joint emergency response” protocol in operational centers in protected wilderness areas.

They also agreed on developing a security training program for officials of the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), who perform control and protection functions.

According to MINAE, the environmental sector requires a greater police presence in land and maritime operations to fight against drug trafficking, since the joint work they have done historically — such as training to identify and combat environmental crimes — has proved insufficient.

That was highlighted early on Saturday at Llorona Beach in Osa, Puntarenas., when park ranger Carlos Ugalde Carmona was shot and wounded during a confrontation with suspects who transported more than two tons of cocaine.

As a result of the incident, the Public Security Ministry confirmed it will increase the number of staff in the Llorona post permanently.

MINAE officials will review internal protocols to define the functions that will correspond to SINAC officials and National Police when encountering similar situations.

In addition, the Office of Human Resources of the SINAC will clarify the functions of park rangers, as well as the profiles of the candidates to guarantee “the suitability” of the official in the exercise of those tasks. They must also have some training in handling weapons and in the use of explosives.

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This story was originally published by Semanario Universidad. It was translated with permission by The Tico Times. Read the original report here.

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