Costa Rica Seizes More than 1 Metric Ton of Cocaine in the Caribbean
By Gustavo Arias Retana/Diálogo July 23, 2020
In a joint patrol effort, Costa Rican and U.S. authorities seized more than 1 metric ton of cocaine in two vessels in the Caribbean Sea on May 23. The seizures took place near the Cahuita and Manzanillo communities, in Limón province.
“Both cases are apparently connected, with significant international involvement, as the seizures are linked to a Colombian transnational criminal ring […],” Costa Rican Minister of Public Security Michael Soto told Diálogo. “Mainly Panamanian, U.S., and Costa Rican units took part in the operation […].”
The first case came about after Costa Rican authorities received an alert from the U.S. Coast Guard about a suspicious vessel that ignored the stop order sent by the Costa Rican National Coast Guard Service. As a result, authorities “chased a speedboat for several minutes, resulting in gunfire exchanges and the detention of five individuals,” Soto said. Police authorities reported finding 22 bales of cocaine in the boat, weighing about 534 kilograms.
The second case involved the help of Panama’s National Air and Naval Service and the U.S. Coast Guard, which began “a pursuit that started in Panama and continued in Costa Rica. The individuals, who traveled in a speedboat, nearly crashed into the coast, and then escaped,” the Public Security minister said. Police officers boarded the stranded speedboat in Manzanillo, Limón, where they seized 25 packages with about 550 kg of cocaine hydrochloride.
“These cases are connected to criminal rings that operate not only in Costa Rica, but throughout the region, and that are taking advantage of the pandemic to make these moves,” Soto said. “But here, Colombia collaborated with information, Panama with the pursuit, and the U.S. Coast Guard with air support, while we made the arrests; it’s an effort we carry out as a team,” he said.