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Cablegate: Costa Rica Mini Dublin Group Report Update

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #1194/01 1712315
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 202315Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8331
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SAN JOSE 001194

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR INL/PC KPALA AND INL/LP MARTIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR PREL KCRM CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA MINI DUBLIN GROUP REPORT UPDATE

REF: A) STATE 73991
B) 2006 SAN JOSE 2671
C) SAN JOSE 1106
D) SAN JOSE 0999

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: This message provides an update on Dublin Group
activities (per Ref A). Costa Rica continues to serve as a transit
point for illegal narcotics destined to the United States and Europe
from production sites in South America. At the same time, Costa Rica
continues to demonstrate professionalism and reliability with its
international partners in combating narcotics trafficking. The amount
of cocaine seized since the start of the Arias administration (over 25
tons in 2006; approximately 20.5 metric tons metric tons to date in
2007) underscores both the success of the GOCRQs anti-drug efforts and
the magnitude of the flow through the region. The United States
continues to provide the majority of assistance from among the Dublin
Group Donors in Costa Rica. Dublin Group members have not expressed
significant concerns since our last report (Ref B). However, Costa
RicaQs recognition of the PRC (Ref C) cut off the GOCRQs major
non-Dublin Group source of law enforcement assistance. The lost
Taiwanese aid will be difficult to replace. END SUMMARY.

DRUG SITUATION AND POLICY INITIATIVES
=====================================

2. (U) Costa Rica continues to serve as a transit point for illegal
narcotics destined to the United States and Europe from production
sites in South America. Costa Rica's geographic position astride
important sea routes, its large maritime area (10 times larger than its
land mass), and its short distance from Colombia combine to make the
country a convenient logistics platform for drug trafficking
organizations moving narcotics to the United States.

3. (U) Costa Rica is compliant with all UN drug conventions and
continues to implement its comprehensive national drug plan, drafted in
2003. Costa Rica has strict controls on precursor chemicals, although
money laundering legislation has significant loopholes. There have been
no legislative initiatives to address these loopholes.

4. (U) Costa Rica continues to demonstrate professionalism and
reliability with its international partners in combating narcotics
trafficking. Costa Rican authorities have aggressively investigated
allegations of internal corruption and successfully prosecuted numerous
officials. U.S. law enforcement agencies consider the public security
forces and judicial officials to be full partners in counter-narcotics
investigations and operations.

5. (U) The Pan-American Highway serves as a major thoroughfare for
large land shipments of illicit drugs and other contraband while a lack
of detection and enforcement resources at Costa Rica's international
airports provide opportunities for smuggling drugs Q notably heroin -
to the United States and Europe. Costa Rican and U.S. authorities
jointly seized a record 25.5 metric tons of cocaine in Costa Rican
waters or on Costa Rican vessels in 2006. The drug control police (PCD)
launched a major offensive against small-time drug dealers and have
dramatically increased seizures of crack cocaine. In all other drug
categories, the PCD dramatically increased seizures, often doubling or
tripling 2005 amounts. For example, the PCD seized 2,464 kilograms of
marijuana (881 in 2005) and 60.6 kilograms of heroin (49.38 in 2005).
Seizures of MDMA/Ecstasy were 5,963 tablets in 2006 compared to only 41
tablets in 2005. Costa Rican authorities seized over $4 million in
suspect currency ($850,000 in 2005). It should also be noted that
another investigative agency, Organismo de Investigacion Judicial (OIJ)
has dramatically increased its seizures this year, almost 6 metric tons
of the total seizures are attributable to OIJ. All of these seizures
are an example of the improved cooperation among the investigative and
law enforcement agencies.

EXTERNAL ASSISTANCE ISSUES
==========================

6. (U) The USG continues to be the largest Dublin Group donor to Costa
Rica. The most significant recent initiative has been the launch of a
multi-year program to professionalize the national police (Ref D).
While not focused solely on counter-narcotics, this program should
better prepare the Costa Rican police force to handle law enforcement
work in general, including counter-drug activities. Working with NAS
Panama, an executive leadership seminar series for senior police
managers began in April. The second phase began in June. In addition,
the COMPSTAT management and accountability tool was introduced to
senior police managers. The final component of the overall program
will use a Qtrain the trainerQ model to prepare a QcommandQ cadre of
150 mid-level police managers to oversee the expanded force
contemplated by GOCR Minister of Public Security Berrocal.

DUBLIN GROUP COOPERATION
========================

7. (SBU) There are no new initiatives to report. However, outside of
the Dublin Group, the most significant development has been Costa
RicaQs June 1 recognition of China, which abruptly ended TaiwanQs
extensive assistance program, including to the Public Security Ministry
and police. Until Taiwan broke relations, it had provided millions in
assistance to the Costa Rican police, including equipment and vehicles.
We understand that more was in the pipeline on June 1, but will now
not be delivered. Even some of the vehicles delivered in early 2007
are no longer in use, since the Taiwanese maintenance contracts ended
when the assistance programs did. This may have implications for
Dublin Group members, as the GOCR looks for alternative sources of CN
and law enforcement assistance.

RECOMMENDATIONS
===============
8.QU) There are no new Dublin Group recommendations to report.
However, bilaterally, we are encouraging the GOCR to continue the same
pattern of close cooperation with US judicial and law enforcement
authorities. New initiatives, such as improving K-9 unit capabilities
with the help of the National Guard State Partnership Program with New
Mexico and continuing efforts such as the eight joint U.S. Coast
Guard/Navy-Costa Rica Coast Guard Operations this year, are examples.

WEITZENKORN

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