It has come to light that a major drug cartel, Los Charros, is using Costa Rican churches to launder its drug money.
Costa Rica has long been a conduit for drugs making their way north. Like Panama, the country has the unfortunate distinction of being an isthmus, therefore drugs either run up the middle or along the coasts making their relentless way to market, The United States.
According the this morning’s Costa Rica Star, “The network has used transportation companies, construction companies and hardware stores to launder its dirty money, but now they have found a new method. Los Charros have been cleaning and hiding their drug money by buying and registering real estate, automobiles and other properties under the names of Evangelical Churches. So far, one Evangelical foundation has been uncovered as a participant in the cartel’s criminal activities. There may be more religious foundations being used as money laundering fronts that have not yet been detected.”
This writer is reminded of the great line by Joe Polito, the actor who plays a minor hood named Johnny Caspar in the great Coen brother’s film, Miller’s Crossing. Casper is outraged that a fix he put on a horse race has not resulted in a guaranteed win. He says to his boss, “I’m talkin’ about friendship. I’m talkin’ about character. I’m talkin’ about – hell. Leo, I ain’t embarrassed to use the word – I’m talkin’ about ethics.”
Yes, let’s have some ethics in the drug trade. Please. What’s wrong with asking that hospitals, mortuaries, nursing homes, and, yes, even churches be exempt from these activities. Otherwise, I will not feel comfortable putting money in the collection plate next Sunday. Just saying.