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Costa Rica Seizes 2.9 Tons of Cocaine in Plantain Container

Costa Rica Seizes 2.9 Tons of Cocaine in Plantain Container

By Gustavo Arias Retana/Diálogo
December 17, 2020

The Costa Rican Drug Control Police prevented the departure of a drug shipment hidden inside a plantain container in Moín, Limón province, on October 11, 2020. The shipment, which was bound for Antwerp, Belgium, totaled 2.9 tons of drugs, the Costa Rican newspaper AM Prensa reported.

“Another blow to international organized crime. Today [October 11] [authorities] detected a suspicious container at an APM Terminals pier; they scanned it […], they found 2,903 packages of cocaine hydrochloride inside,” Costa Rican Minister of Public Security Michael Soto said at a press conference.

Soto highlighted the Costa Rican police forces’ performance during 2020, the year in which authorities project to make the largest drug seizures in their history. With this seizure, the country has detected 12.5 tons of cocaine in containers, he said.

The fruit shipment containing the drug came from the Matina community, also in Limón province. However, it is unknown where the container was contaminated with the illicit cargo. Contamination frequently happens on the way, not when the fruit is loaded, police said.

Recurring method

This is not the first time that Costa Rica has detected drugs hidden inside fruit containers. In August, authorities detected 918 kilograms of cocaine in a pineapple shipment that was bound for Rotterdam, Netherlands, the Costa Rican newspaper La Nación reported.

Another similar situation took place in May, when police discovered 1,250 kg of cocaine that was also bound for Rotterdam. In this case, the drugs were hidden inside a pineapple juice shipment, the Honduran newspaper Proceso Digital reported.

Costa Rica’s container inspection program benefits greatly from the U.S.-supported Remote Image Analysis Center.  At this facility, inaugurated in October with participation from U.S. Ambassador Sharon Day, analysts scan images taken at the port of Moín, flagging containers that appear to contain narcotics or other contraband.