Costa Rica seizes cocaine hidden in balloons
By Dialogo October 17, 2012
SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica – Costa Rican counter-narcotics agents seized 119 kilograms (262 pounds) of cocaine hidden in party balloons from a port in El Limón, on the country’s Caribbean coast, during a routine cargo check.
Agents from the Costa Rican Drug Control Police made the seizure on Oct. 14 when a routine check uncovered vacuum-sealed packages of cocaine, each weighing about one kilogram (2.2 pounds), stuffed inside brightly colored balloons in five suitcases.
Deputy Minister of Public Security Celso Gamboa told Costa Rican news outlets narco-traffickers routinely use new shipping techniques to evade authorities. In this case, the traffickers were utilizing a freight container designed to transport frozen merchandise, he said.
Authorities have not arrested any suspects in the case. So far this year, authorities in the Central American country have confiscated more than nine metric tons (19,841 pounds) of cocaine, officials said.
Spanish and Dominican authorities team to seize cocaine
Anti-narcotics units from Spain and the Dominican Republic coordinated to track and seize a shipment of cocaine hidden in a shipping container full of recycled plastic, authorities said.
The Dominican National Directorate for Control (DNCD) said on Oct. 14 an international narco-trafficking ring sent 107 packets of cocaine from the Caucedo Port in Boca Chica, a beach town just east of the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo, to Spain.
The DNCD said the shipping container was tracked to the port of Algeciras, a city in southern Spain on the Bay of Gibraltar. Spanish authorities confiscated the shipment.
Authorities have detained at least three suspects – Hilario Ramón Rosario, Juan Rosado Castro and Pablo Moreno – though they have yet to announce charges, said Roberto Lebrón, a DNCD spokesman, adding authorities expected to arrest several more suspects but declined to provide details.
Dominican authorities said the shipment was part of a larger drug shipment that was seized at the Caucedo Port on Oct. 2. In that seizure, authorities decommissioned 112 packets of cocaine and arrested Féliz Argenis Ozuna Rojas, Wellington Pilar and Edyson Vásquez Montilla.
The shipment was prepared in the industrial zone of Manoguayabo in Santo Domingo and authorities have said a woman, Yeni Brito Aquino, was responsible for sending the container.
Special units within the DNCD tracked “this case until Spanish authorities could successfully seize the drugs,” the DNCD said in a statement.
The agency said authorities from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and port security agencies assisted in the operation.
French officials seize drugs from Bahamian cargo
French customs officials on Oct. 11 seized 16 kilograms (35.27 pounds) bundles of cocaine sealed in a bag aboard a merchant ship in the port of La Rochelle in western France on the Bay of Biscay.
The French Directorate General of Customs said cocaine was “hidden in the metal structures of the ship at a passage that gave access to the double hull of the cargo liner.”
The “Quetzal Arrow,” the 200-meter cargo ship flying the flag of the Bahamas, had deported from Brazil and made a stopover in Colombia, according to French news outlet Libération.
Customs officers estimated the cocaine had a street value at more than €950,000 (US$1.239 million). Authorities said the ship’s captain was detained and turned over to authorities in La Rochelle for processing. His name was not disclosed.
Ecuador: Police investigate seizure of 8 tons of cocaine
Ecuadoran police and their counterparts in Belgium and The Netherlands are investigating a shipment of eight tons of cocaine that was shipped to Europe and confiscated in Belgium earlier this month, Ecuadoran Interior Minister José Serrano said.
The cocaine was confiscated on Oct. 8 in the port of Antwerp, Belgium “in a new joint action among the police of Ecuador, Belgium and Holland,” Serrano tweeted. “Ecuador, Belgium and Holland are moving forward with the investigation to break up the criminal band responsible [for shipping the cocaine].”
The Antwerp Attorney General’s Office said the cocaine, which was found stashed in a shipment of bananas destined for the Netherland, had a street value of €500 (US$647 million).
At the beginning of the month, the local press reported that authorities in that city had seized eight tons of cocaine shipped from Ecuador with a street sales value of €500 million ($651.75 million).