Poaching, Drugs, and Murder in Costa Rica: Shell Game (Full Length)

Since sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica began in the 1950s, conservationists and poachers have peacefully shared the beach. But the murder of the environmentalist Jairo Mora Sandoval in 2013 shocked the eco-friendly country and brought attention to a violent overlap between conservationism and drug trafficking in Costa Rica’s abundant national parks and untouched coastlines.

With five per cent of the world’s biodiversity, the unique geography of Costa Rica is a hotspot for eco-tourism and conservation work. However, it is that same geography that makes the country so vulnerable to the violent drug trade that surrounds its borders. Costa Rica has become a major transshipment point for drug traffickers, with deadly consequences for those caught in the middle.

VICE News travels to Costa Rica to commemorate the two-year anniversary of environmental activist Jairo Mora Sandoval’s tragic death and meet with conservationists, poachers, drug dealers, and law enforcement about the intersecting criminality across the country.

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40 thoughts on “Poaching, Drugs, and Murder in Costa Rica: Shell Game (Full Length)

  1. The unsolved murders of environmental activists in Costa Rica have shaken the country's eco­-friendly tourist image and has exposed an apparent growing violent overlap between animal poaching and drug trafficking on the country's coast.
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  2. Dam shame that they sell a nest of 20 or more eggs for only 100$ those sea turtles are endangered. What happens when there is zero eggs. This is just like shark fin soup. Poached and murdered.

  3. For clarity, Limon is Costa Rica's poorest province. If you want to visit Limon, only do Puerto Viejo. I have lived here 15 years (Costa Rican) and have never been there. You'd be very unlucky or dumb to have something bad happen. Gringos, do Guanacaste or La Fortuna. Pura Vida!

  4. I can't prove it but one needs not being a geniuous to figure this out. It is rather obvious how this works: Primary forest areas, places far away from primary access roads are made national parks by laws where the same laws protect not those who protect the forests but instead give out the ilussion that they do protect them. In addition, how rather convenient that there remote areas are so much prone to drug trafficking?

    In the case of Jairo, nobody kills anybody for some turtle eggs, its just not worthy. He was killed because he was a witness to a drug drop somewhere.

    The fact that evidence was missing by the prosecutors is evidence that they we're involved with thise who killed Jairo.

  5. Isn't the obvious solution to just pay the locals to collect the eggs for conservation efforts? That way the locals get to eat and the conservationists get to save far more eggs – how much does each "conservationist" spend on a plane ticket, hotel, food, etc? 1000$ minimum? This would buy thousands of eggs…

    If you choose to donate your vacation money to a local organization – congrats you're a conservationist. If not, I think you're just another tourist whose true motivation is getting a good selfie photo and a reason to talk down to people.

    These daddy's money college kids need to get real…

  6. This was a great report, but it's so obvious! That the politicians have "protected" all this land as national parks as a launch pad for drug trafficking. They assign 4 guys to patrol thousands of acres of nationally protected parks?… what a fucking joke!. Good ppl dying over some Turtle eggs, and some Nica bureaucrats making deals with cartel greed.

  7. Shame on you vice,u have no business trying to promote this bullshit! making the costa rcian people look bad,u dumb white hippys,go back home or work to help the PEOPLE UR FELLOW HUMANS IN COSTA RICA,WHO ARE IN POVERTY,BECOME MORE EDUCATED! LOSERS!

  8. Not all costa ricans are bad. I visited the country and what i can tell you is that they don't like admitting the truth. There is country is corrupt and poor but they keep denying it to try and make tourists believe the whole country is great. Since about 95% of the country is either indian or black they yell alot of racist stuff to anyone that looks foreign from them in rural areas.

  9. Hi VICE, great video. I'm currently out in Costa Rica working with the turtles and we are producing a video to help the turtles after assisting with the release of a poached turtle last week. We were wondering if we could use some of your footage? Mostly stock stuff of the turtles? Thanks Sarah

  10. uhh does Vice realize that they don't translate about 50% of what's being said properly? I mean you're conveying the message of what they people are saying but in a lot of instances you're not actually translating it 100% or even 80% correctly….just thought i'd throw that out there. I only noticed several things in this video but there's many more in a lot of the other videos.

  11. La transnacional APM terminals mando a matar a Jairo y lo quieren ocultar como un crimen de lacras locales… pero sabemos que no es así… This is not a happy country this is a lie… democracy its just a lie

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