The United States imposed sanctions on the Costa Rican drug trafficker known as “Macho Coca”, whom they hold responsible for making Costa Rica “an important drug transit hub,” the Treasury Department reported on Wednesday.
Gilbert Hernán de Los Ángeles Bell Fernández is one of the most prolific drug traffickers in the province of Limón (eastern Costa Rica), “known not only for the volume of drugs he moves but for the violence with which he operates,” the statement said.
He was arrested in 2015 by the Costa Rican authorities, who confiscated multiple assets from him, including several boats allegedly used to transport drugs.
Now the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), “in cooperation with the government of Costa Rica,” has imposed economic sanctions on him under which all his assets in the United States or in the possession or control of Americans are blocked.
According to Washington, Costa Rica has a growing problem with domestic drug consumption mainly due to two causes: the drugs “stored” in the country are increasingly penetrating the local market and criminal organizations are gaining influence from the income they obtain from narcotics.
“Drug trafficking is linked to the 66% increase in the homicide rate in Costa Rica” over the past decade, the statement notes.
The national homicide rate increased from 11.2 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2021 to 12.6 in 2022. In the province of Limón it is 35.8.
“Today’s action demonstrates our shared commitment to confront the rise in crime” in Costa Rica, says Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson, quoted in the statement.