Drugs, Exports and Lack of Control

An activity that generates nearly $1 billion a year in Costa Rica in exports is being seriously threatened by the infiltration of drug traffickers, who are taking advantage of loopholes left open by the government because it does not have an adequate system for checking containers and registering exporters.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

dir="ltr">The most recent seizure of 45 kilos of drugs that arrived in the United States in the corrugated bottom of 20 cardboard boxes of pineapples from San Carlos has once again set alarm bells ringing in the export sector, which has ceaselessly demanded that authorities to go back to the "in situ" review system of cargo, which used to be carried out before and stopped during the Solís administration.

Abel Chaves, president of the National Chamber of Pineapple Producers and Exporters (Canapep), told Nacion.com: "...The damage that they are doing not only to the country, through its image, but also to the sector itself (is big). This can lead to the country becoming less competitive. It may mean that in countries where pineapples are coming in to Costa Rica, for them to have greater security, (shipments) go through scanners and this could result in an additional cost for the industry."

In addition to returning to on-site container inspections, Chaves suggests maintaining an updated and stricter record of authorized exporters. 

The concern of pineapple producers and exporters of other agricultural products that have also been used to transport drugs, is centered around the loss of competitiveness that this generates, and the negative impact on the image of the sector and the country. 

The most serious thing is that this is not a new problem.  Discoveries of drug in Costa Rican agricultural exports have been discovered before, and it has been happening with increasing frequence in recent years.

See: "Alert on drugs in agroexports" and "Drugs in export cargo: And the scanners?"



More on this topic

Pineapple: Container Inspection Intensified

February 2021

In order to prevent drug trafficking, as of February 8, Costa Rica's General Directorate of Customs defined that all containers carrying fresh, organic pineapple and by-products of this fruit will be scanned by the Port Operator APM Terminals Moín.

Dried and frozen pineapple, canned preserves, compotes, jellies, jams, pineapple puree or paste, juices, concentrates and pasteurized products are the sub products that will also be subject to these revisions.

Cochineal in Pineapples Sent from Costa Rica to USA

July 2016

In the first half of the year interceptions of goods in the US suspected of being contaminated with insects rose by 32% compared to the same period in 2015.

Data provided by the health authorities of the United States to Costa Rica indicates that most of the detained shipments were stopped on suspicion of the presence of the cochineal bug.

More Phytosanitary Controls on Agricultural Exports

June 2016

Pineapple exporters claim to have lost $2.3 million since the authorities started making additional inspections of containers at ports of departure.

Arguing that in April an increased presence of insects was detected in containers of pineapples exported to the United States, the State Phytosanitary Service (SFE) has tightened control measures, which are no longer limited to inspections on farms and packing plants, but also include an extra inspection at ports of departure.

Agroexporters Ask For Drug Detecting Scanners

August 2015

In Costa Rica scanners donated by China in 2008 remain unused, while exporting businesses are warning of the growing infiltration of drug trafficking in the sector.

Using scanners at the ports of Limon and reactivating inspection mechanisms that were used before to control cargo in containers, are part of the measures the agro-export sector is asking of the government in order to identify potential drugs hidden in shipments of merchandise.