Nearshore Americas

Homicides in Costa Rica Soar Amidst Explosion in Drug Violence

Costa Rica could soon lose its reputation as Central America’s “oasis of peace”.

The country recorded 602 homicides as of early September 2023, 184 more than what was recorder in the same period for 2022, according to Costa Rica’s Organism for Judicial Investigation (OIJ),

While the number pales in comparisson with what’s seen in other Latin American countries, it is significantly high for Costa Rica. The country maintains a reputation for being exceptionally peaceful when compared to its regional peers.

With four months to go before the year closes, the amount of homicides in Costa Rica is already inching close to the record reached in 2022 (656). OIJ warned as early as February that 2023 could mark a new record for violence in the country: 850-950 homicides.

The alarming increase in violence is being driven by a turf war between drug trafficking gangs, who are fighting for control of smuggling routes.

The situation is particularly dire in the province of Limón, which has the highest number of homicides. Violence persists despite the government sending more police to the area.

Although Central America has long been a major route for drugs to the US, Costa Rica had previously succeeded in keeping gangs at bay.

The latest homicide statistics come on the heels of a government proposal to redirect funds from transportation projects in order to upgrade and provide better equipment to security forces.

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Mario Zamora, the Minister of Security, told local reporters that “the time has come to curb the menace” permanently.

“Decisive action is essential now. We are at a pivotal point where control might slip away,” the minister said, adding that Costa Rica had joined forces with the United State’s Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to crack down hard on gangs.

Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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