Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Sinaloa Cartel Ring Leader in Costa Rica Is Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison

"MX" for Borderland Beat
Costa Rican anti-drug agents taking Antonio Leon Rojas into custody
Mexican national Antonio León Rojas was sentenced to 12 years in prison last Thursday in Costa Rica for drug possession, trafficking and commercialization. He was responsible for coordinating the Sinaloa Cartel's drug operations in the area and serving as a supervisor for the Central America-Mexico drug corridor. Costa Rica's Attorney General's Office also sentenced five Costa Ricans who were part of León Rojas's network.

In 2015, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) notified Costa Rican officials that León Rojas was conducting drug operations in the country. Investigators said that he left and entered Costa Rica multiple times that year. But it was not until 2017 when Costa Rican officials identified León Rojas's network through several cocaine seizures.

According to the DEA, León Rojas entered Costa Rica multiple times in 2015 by flying in to the Juan Santamaría International Airport in San Jose, Costa Rica from Mexico or by arriving from Pasos Canoas, a town on the Costa Rica - Panama border.

The investigation against León Rojas started on 17 March 2017 when the Costa Rican police arrested a man with 277 kg of cocaine. This unidentified man was working for León Rojas's network. On 28 July, anti-drug agents received information that León Rojas's network was planning to conduct a cocaine deal with some buyers. The agents were able to disrupt the transaction and seize the merchandise. On 15 November, the police arrested a Costa Rica man (surname Leitón) linked to León Rojas with 213 kg of cocaine.

From September to November 2017, Costa Rica's anti-drug officials noted that León Rojas and Colombian national Edward Martinez Ibarra smuggled two drug shipments into Costa Rica by hiding them on the floor of a vehicle that entered its borders. Investigators later found out that once in Costa Rica, León Rojas hid narcotics in luxurious houses they rented or purchased with drug money.
Leon Rojas's network hid drugs in luxurious houses they rented or purchased in Costa Rica
Costa Rican officials announced on 20 February 2018 that León Rojas was arrested in Heredia for heading a criminal operation that smuggled narcotics via land from Central America to Mexico. They said that he was the "leader" of this Sinaloa Cartel cell. During his arrest, security forces also arrested one Costa Rican and three Nicaraguan citizens.

However, the Prosecutor's Office was unable to prove in court that the Costa Rican and the three Nicaraguans were involved in drug trafficking. Each of them was sentenced to 10 years in prison each for aggravated robbery because they stole a vehicle from a cocaine buyer in San Jose. During the robbery, they posed as police officers.

In the last 45 years, Costa Rica has become a key corridor for drug trafficking due to its geographical position in southern Central America, close to the centers of cocaine and other drugs production in Colombia. Contraband is also smuggled into Costa Rica from Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru. Data showed that more than 70 Mexican nationals are detained in Costa Rica for various crimes, but the majority are drug-related.

Sources: El PorvenirCRHoy (1); CRHOY (2)El UniversalLinea Directa


  1. Wow Sinalia cartel doing business in Costa Rica.

  2. Replies
    1. I was thinking the same thing. Maybe Costa Rica doesn't have the legal precedent for drug crimes as other countries do, hence why sentences are so low. This is a growing issue in the Netherlands, for example, where they have unusually-low sentences for drug crimes.


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