A gang producing and trafficking fentanyl was captured on Tuesday in Costa Rica, authorities in the Central American country reported on Tuesday, marking the first arrest of a group dedicated to trafficking the powerful synthetic opioid associated with an epidemic of overdose deaths in the United States.
With support from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), police investigators detained two Costa Ricans and two Colombians and seized 1,100 fentanyl pills. In addition, they seized about $30,000 and raided properties in three municipalities in the center of the country, including an apparent laboratory, the Ministry of Public Security said.
“It is a historical fact that raises alarm bells because it confirms the presence of fentanyl in the Costa Rican market, which arrives from international gangs,” said Security Minister Mario Zamora at a press conference.
The authority added that they verified the sale of doses in bars in San José and Escazú, a wealthy municipality west of the capital, even to users who believed they were consuming another type of synthetic drug.
Until last month, authorities were carrying out 10 investigations related to fentanyl since 2022, according to figures from the Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ), although experts have drawn attention to the risk of growth in fentanyl consumption and trafficking in the country. , a drug that is estimated to kill 200 Americans every day.
Costa Rica is experiencing a wave of violence that has brought homicides to a record number this year. The murders and new forms of violence are mainly the product of disputes between drug trafficking gangs, especially cocaine and marijuana, that use Costa Rican territory to transit, store, produce and sell drugs.
The population indicates in surveys that insecurity is the main problem of the country that, for decades, had enjoyed tranquility and stability. 70% of the population distrusts that Rodrigo Chaves’ government can resolve the situation, according to a recent survey by the University of Costa Rica.
Last week, Honduran police made the first seizure of fentanyl in the country’s history, days before Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador met with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, and agreed to combat illegal trafficking. of chemical precursors used to make synthetic drugs such as fentanyl.
The administration of US President Joe Biden is seeking greater cooperation from Mexico and China to stop the flow of fentanyl and its chemical precursors, at a time when drug traffickers have turned to the production and trafficking of the drug, 50 times more powerful than morphine.
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