Drug trafficking groups are increasingly taking over protected areas in Costa Rica. The low accessibility and the limited security resources available make it easy for criminals to operate in these areas.
There are narco tracks along the entire Pacific coast of Costa Rica,”
said Bernardo Aguilar, representative of the Neotropical Foundation. This entity developed the study “Impacts of narco-deforestation in protected areas of Central America”, with results showing that 60% of deforestation in the region is caused by drug trafficking.
In Costa Rica, for the moment, there are no reports of serious damage from deforestation. However, for specialists, the presence of drug traffickers is quite obvious.
The organized crime groups use natural caves, stones, and even build rudimentary buildings to protect cocaine shipments. One of the most critical cases was the discovery of a clandestine runway near the Sierpe lagoon in Osa.
Gustavo Gutiérrez, a professor at the School of Biology at the University of Costa Rica, said there is overwhelming evidence of attempted bribery and threats to Costa Rican rangers.
Gutiérrez believes the crime takes advantage of remote sites. The recent study shows that damage in countries like Honduras and Guatemala is much greater, but the presence of groups in Costa Rica is obvious.
Nothing is being done here, we ignore the problem we are experiencing. More government action is required. The styudy mentioned places like Manuel Antonio, Corcovado and we know that the problem is there,”
said the professor.
The different environmentalists agree that there is a threat of losing control of protected areas, so they are seeking greater communal involvement in protecting the environment.