Drugs and Animal Poaching Overlap in Costa Rica | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Drugs and Animal Poaching Overlap in Costa Rica

Drug runners' recruitment of poachers brings crime to the country's once-protected shores.


Jairo Mora Sandoval died protecting Costa
Rican sea turtles Photo via

By McCarton Ackerman


| Share

Costa Rica has a history of political stability, a relatively low crime rate and rich wildlife, making it a sanctuary for many eager travelers. But the recent murder of an environmental activist has cast light on the rising overlap between animal poaching and drug trafficking on the country's impoverished and sparsely populated Atlantic coast. The body of 26-year-old Jairo Mora Sandoval was found last month after he was abducted by gunmen while patrolling the beach to help save nesting leatherback turtles from poachers. "It's an area where there is an extremely low presence of authority," says Juan Sánchez Ramírez, an investigator with the nation's Environment Ministry. "The government has neglected the region. " Poverty in the area has driven many locals to poach protein-rich eggs ransacked from turtle nests that end up being served in popular restaurants. And many poachers are now being lured into the grips of drug traffickers who move up the coast from Panama and Colombia in speedboats. "The geographical position of the country makes it an ideal place for the transit and warehousing of drugs," says local police commander Erick Calderón, "But it's not all in transit. Some of it stays here and, worse yet, traffickers are using drugs to pay local distributors. That means it has to be consumed here, which creates and sustains a local market."According to officials, drug addiction is rising in the region, and many addicts have taken to trading eggs directly to dealers for powdered cocaine. The poachers' collaboration with drug traffickers has also increased the presence of dangerous assault weapons on Costa Rica's shores. "The police don't even have AK-47s," says Sánchez Ramirez, "but the traffickers have them."

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
Normies React to the 12 Steps

"I think admitting to having a problem in general is the right first step, but to admit powerlessness is unhealthy. .. I think admitting powerlessness is more harmful because it doesn't help. Admitting that you want and need help is more useful after admittance."

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 


This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv