Costa Rica Increases Cocaine Seizures in Caribbean Coast Ports  

Costa Rica Increases Cocaine Seizures in Caribbean Coast Ports  

By Gustavo Arias Retana/Diálogo
July 06, 2020

Improvements in port control, intelligence work, and coordination with partner nations are yielding significant results for Costa Rica’s drug seizures at its ports, especially on the Caribbean coast.

By the second week of May, Costa Rican authorities had carried out four major cocaine seizures, totaling more than 8 tons. In many cases, the drug was hidden among consumer goods.

The photo shows part of the more than 6 tons of cocaine that were seized in February, hidden among ornamental plants. This is the largest drug seizure in Costa Rica’s history. (Photo: Costa Rican Ministry of Security)

The Costa Rican Drug Control Police reported finding two containers with 550 kilograms of cocaine on May 18, in Gastón Kogan pier, Limón province. The drug was hidden in the walls of the containers and bound for Puerto Barrios, Guatemala.

On May 14, the police reported another cocaine shipment of 778 kg hidden among bags of salt, also in the province of Limón, this time at the port of APM Terminals Moín. The containers were bound for the Netherlands. On May 11, authorities also prevented the transfer of 1,250 kg of cocaine from the same Caribbean terminal. The drug was hidden in a container carrying pineapples.

On February 15, the Costa Rican police reported the largest drug seizure in the country’s history: authorities found almost 6 tons of cocaine inside a container at the APM Terminals Moín. The drug was hidden among ornamental plants.

Technology, intelligence, and work with partner nations

Costa Rican Minister of Public Security Michael Soto told the press that the increase in seizures is linked to intelligence efforts by the Costa Rican Police and partner nations such as the United States in the fight against drugs. In addition, there have been robust technological advances, such as a U.S.-made monitoring scanner that began operating at the APM Terminals port in December 2019.

“We analyze all ships and boats that leave for highly important destinations, and then based on that profiling we move to a second stage, which is scanning,” Soto said. “We work continuously to prevent cocaine hydrochloride shipments from leaving our country, especially to Europe and North America.”

Minister Soto said that intelligence and coordination work with authorities from other countries is essential. “We live in one of the most dangerous areas of the world, in one of the drug transit areas, and it is true that it is a complex area. We try to be more and more effective,” Soto said.