1. Costa Rica $0.0768 Billion ($76.8 Million)

  2. Black Market Crime in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Security Threats

Information about security threats from Costa Rica’s black market. Intelligence data and security information collected from government agencies, news articles and other public data sources.

Security agencies in Costa Rica reported seizing about 4.8 metric tons of cocaine along the countries Pacific Coast during the first 4 months of 2014.

In all of 2013, security forces seized 18 metric tons of cocaine along the Pacific coast.

(Additional facts about cocaine.)

In addition to cocaine trafficking, the Public Security Ministry is also monitoring illegal fishing activities in the waters surrounding Costa Rica. Four vessels that was conducting unauthorized fishing activities were seized in the first quarter of 2013. A total of 9 ships were seized for illegal fishing in 2013.

(More crime in Costa Rica statistics.)

Source:  Mario Garita, “Radar helps combat drug trafficking, illegal fishing,” Inside Costa Rica, May 1, 2014.

Security services across Costa Rica saw an increase in the number of illegal drugs seized across the country.

43 tons of cocaine was seized by law enforcement in 2013, an increase from the 15.6 tons of cocaine seized in 2012.

Ecstasy also saw an increase, with a total of 11,300 doses of ecstasy seized from the black market. 293 ecstasy tablets were seized the year before.

(Price of ecstasy tablets for sale on the black market.)

Researchers have also found that the use of marijuana has increased in Costa Rica. Between 2006 and 2012, the use of marijuana by residents in Costa Rica increased by 260 percent and is the most used illicit drug in the country. A popular form of marijuana in Costa Rica is the High Red Jamaican marijuana.

Source:  Ezra Fieser, “United Nations: Costa Rica is fighting organ and narco-trafficking,” Infosurhoy, December 24, 2013.

22 percent of the alcohol sold in Costa Rica is sold illegally without the payment of taxes, according to the Finance Ministry. Over 90 percent of the contraband alcohol is smuggled into the country.

Financial authorities also seized 12.3 million black market cigarettes that were being smuggled without the payment of duties in the first 10 months of 2013. The amount of illegal tobacco seized was 5 times higher than the 2.3 million black market cigarettes that were seized in all of 2012.

Source:  Zach Dyer, “Bootleggers make bank with black-market booze, cigarettes,” Tico Times, December 18, 2013.


There are an estimated 300,000 people in Costa Rica between the ages of 13 to 35 who consume synthetic drugs such as ecstasy. 2 percent of students stated that they have tried ecstasy at least once in their life.

According to officials, a single ecstasy pill costs between $11 to $19 on the black market, while the UN reports that the price is $25 per tablet.  In comparison, a single hit of crack cocaine costs $1 in Costa Rica.

In the first 10 months of 2013, security services seized 11,300 doses of ecstasy in the country. 11,109 pills were seized in one campaign where the pills were being trafficked from Germany and the Netherlands.

In all of 2012, there was a total of 293 doses seized.

Source:  Mario Garita, “Cost Rica: Ecstasy use on the rise among children,” Infosurhoy, November 15, 2013.

A study conducted by the World Bank found that the economic costs to the Central America region due to organized crime violence is $6.5 Billion per year. The costs associated with the violence decreases the region’s GDP by 7.7 percent.

The impact of organized crime and drug trafficking violence on the countries GDP is as follows:

El Salvador: 10.8 percent of GDP worth $2 Billion.

Nicaragua: 10 percent of GDP worth $529 Million.

Honduras: 9.6 percent of GDP worth $885 Million.

Guatemala: 7.7 percent of GDP worth $2.2 Billion.

Costa Rica: 3.6 percent of GDP worth $791 Million.

There are 41 homicides for every 100,000 residents in Central America. 24 percent of the world’s marijuana smokers and 45 percent of the world’s cocaine users resides in Central America.

(What is racketeering?Find examples here.)

Source:  Sergio Ramos, “Central America: Organized crime costs Central America billions,” Infosurhoy, August 5, 2013.

During the first six months of 2013, immigration officials in Costa Rica identified 20 cases of human trafficking within the country.

9 victims were trafficked for sexual exploitations, and 7 were victims of organ trafficking.

People who sold their organs in Costa Rica received $20,000 for their organs and were transported to Israel for the operation.

Source: “Costa Rica Reported 20 Human Trafficking Victims this Year,” Costa Rica News, July 21, 2013.

As of July 2013, an estimated 800,000 cigarettes were being smuggled into the black market of Costa Rica each day, according to the tobacco industry in the country. The rate of cigarette smuggling was 19 percent higher than the previous year.

In 2008-2009, the smuggling rate for tobacco in Costa Rica was 20 percent of all tobacco consumed in the country. In 2013, the smuggling rate was up to 80 percent.

Source:  Jaime Lopez, “Cigarette Smuggling in Costa Rica on the Rise,” Costa Rica Star, July 5, 2013.

In the coastal city of Puerto Limón in Costa Rica, residents are becoming addicted to cocaine due to its location along the trafficking routes from South American to the United States. Security officials in the country state that many drug traffickers are paying local suppliers in cocaine, which is then consumed locally.

(See all wildlife trafficking statistics.)

With the rise in domestic users, many cocaine addicts are turning to turtle egg poaching in order to feed their habit. Poachers are  dig up several turtle nests at night which yields up to 90 turtle eggs. The poachers then sell these eggs directly to the cocaine dealer as payment for their drugs. The dealer turns around and sells a single turtle egg on the black market for $1. The eggs are popular with the local residents when combined with hot sauce and are sold in restaurants and street stalls.

(More prices of exotic wildlife on the black market.)

Source:  Scott Wallace, ” Costa Rican Murder Shines Light on Poaching, Drug Nexus,” National Geographic, June 17, 2013.

Security agents in Costa Rica has seen an increase in pharmaceutical drugs that have been trafficked into the country from Nicaragua.

618 units of pharmaceutical drugs were seized in Costa Rica in 2010. The following year, the number of seizures rose to 4,315, and rose again to 7,323 in 2012. In the first four months of 2013, authorities seized 67,381 units of pharmaceutical drugs.

According to law enforcement, the types of drugs smuggled from Nicaragua include analgesics, antibiotics, multivitamins and steroids. The drugs are purchased at a lower price in Nicaragua and are smuggled into Costa Rica by smugglers riding the bus.

(See all statistics about prescription drug abuse.)

Source:  Mario Carrillo, “Costa Rica Sees Explosion of Pharmaceutical Drug Smuggling,” Insight Crime, May 28, 2013.

A report released by the Collective Security Analysis for Democracy stated that there were 2.8 million unregistered firearms in Central America, and an additional 15 million unregistered guns in Mexico.

According to the study, the majority of these guns are used by organized crime gangs and drug trafficking cartels to carry out their illicit activities.

The Central America Region has the world’s highest gun-homicide rate, with 41 people being killed by guns per 10,000 people.

According to statistics released by criminal justice programs, Honduras has a gun-homicide rate of 85.5 people per 10,000, followed by El Salvador with 69.2 homicides, Guatemala with 38.5, Mexico with 22.7, Panama with 18, and Costa Rica with 11.3 gun-related homicides.

The World Health Organization states that 5 homicides per 10,000 is considered normal, with over 10 homicides per 10,000 being an “epidemic”.

The unregistered guns in the region comes from four main sources. The first source is through straw buyers who purchase firearms on behalf of the drug cartels. The second source is by purchasing guns from corrupt military soldiers in Guatemala and Honduras. The third source is finding left over supplies from the civil wars that took place in Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador in the 1980s. And the last source of unregistered firearms is through the crafting of home-made weapons known as chimbas. The guns are handcrafted and uses a welded pipe and can fire a single shotgun cartridge.

(Prices of Ak-47s and other firearms on the black market.)

Source:  Sergio Ramos, “Weapons trafficking increases in Central America, Mexico,” Infosurhoy, May 30, 2013.

More arms trafficking data.