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Costa Rican lawmakers met with accused drug traffickers, reports say

May 27, 2021

President Carlos Alvarado on Thursday night met with authorities to discuss Costa Rica’s fight against organized crime, after meetings between lawmakers and alleged drug traffickers became public.

“I will meet at the Casa Presidencial with the Presidents of the Supreme Powers to analyze coordinated actions that strengthen the fight against organized crime,” President Alvarado announced on social media.

“We will be accompanied by heads of the Presidency and Security, as well as the directors of the Department of Intelligence and Security, and the Judicial Investigation Police.”

The meeting was arranged after reports surfaced that several alleged narcotraffickers, some of whom were arrested Tuesday morning in nationwide raids by Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ), had frequent in-person communication with Costa Rican lawmakers.

Specifically, three of the individuals with alleged ties to drug trafficking met with the following deputies, according to Amelia Rueda:

  • During the current constitutional period (May 2018 to present): The suspects visited Erwen Masís Castro and Óscar Cascante Cascante, from the Christian Social Unity Party (PUSC); Eduardo Cruickshank Smith and Mileyde Alvarado Arias, from the National Restoration Party (PRN); and the independents Zoila Rosa Volio Pacheco and Ivonne Acuña Cabrera.
  • In the previous four-year period: The suspects visited Natalia Díaz Quintana, then from the Partido Movimiento Libertario (PML); Olivier Ibo Jiménez Rojas, from the National Liberation Party (PLN); as well as Gerardo Vargas Rojas, Johnny Leiva Badilla, William Alvarado Bogantes and Humberto Vargas Corrales from the Christian Social Unity Party.

Tuesday, Costa Rican authorities seized dozens of houses and vehicles, and arrested 24 people suspected of participating in an unnamed drug-trafficking organization, according to OIJ director Walter Espinoza.

While OIJ did not identify the organization by name, he said it was linked to more than 5 metric tons of cocaine seized in Europe in 2020.

Three current OIJ officials were among those detained on Tuesday, Espinoza said.

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