Costa Rican Aerial Surveillance Service Uses Former Narco-Plane to Detect Drug Traffickers

Costa Rican Aerial Surveillance Service Uses Former Narco-Plane to Detect Drug Traffickers

By Dialogo
December 18, 2014




A plane seized from drug traffickers is the newest addition to the Aerial Surveillance Service of the Costa Rican Ministry of Security’s fleet: the Beechcraft King Air F90, which will carry out patrol missions against organized crime.

The aircraft was loaded with a ton of drugs when the National Public Force seized it along the country’s Caribbean coast on December 16, 2013. At the time, the aircraft was owned by a chain of stores in Guatemala that may have been a front for drug traffickers; it had taken off from Cali, Colombia, and made an emergency landing on a private runway, where police seized the cocaine on the aircraft and arrested the pilot and co-pilot.

The airplane is worth more than $1 million, and Costa Rican law enforcement officials had it renovated for about $75,000 over a period of about 10 months.

Renovated aircraft to look for suspicious maritime vessels


The Aerial Surveillance Service will use the restored aircraft to monitor Costa Rican waters where drug traffickers are active, including the Isla de Coco region.

“The F90 model now in operation with authorities in the Aerial Surveillance Service (SVA) was equipped for police and security use,” said Paul Chaves, a security analyst at the Universidad de la Luz de Costa Rica. “The plane will be able to reinforce maritime surveillance, patrols, and humanitarian actions.”

Manufactured in the United States, the Beechcraft King Air F90 is a popular aircraft for private use and is considered the most expensive and high-end plane seized from drug traffickers by Costa Rican security forces. It has the capacity to carry two crew members in the cabin and seven passengers – all in addition to a cargo load that can be increased by carrying less fuel. The plane is a twin turboprop powered by Pratt & Whitney PT6A-135A engines, which together produce 750 horsepower.

With the newly refurbished plane, the Costa Rican Air Force now has 15 aircraft seized from suspected drug traffickers that have performed well on security missions. In the course of anti-narcotic security operations, the planes perform overflights, detect suspicious vessels, and send naval units from the National Coast Guard to intercept and inspect them. Each Costa Rican security aircraft flies about 3,000 hours annually, with 65 percent of that time spent on police operations, 20 percent on humanitarian actions, such as search-and-rescue operations, and 15 percent transporting public officials, according to Repretel Costa Rica.




A plane seized from drug traffickers is the newest addition to the Aerial Surveillance Service of the Costa Rican Ministry of Security’s fleet: the Beechcraft King Air F90, which will carry out patrol missions against organized crime.

The aircraft was loaded with a ton of drugs when the National Public Force seized it along the country’s Caribbean coast on December 16, 2013. At the time, the aircraft was owned by a chain of stores in Guatemala that may have been a front for drug traffickers; it had taken off from Cali, Colombia, and made an emergency landing on a private runway, where police seized the cocaine on the aircraft and arrested the pilot and co-pilot.

The airplane is worth more than $1 million, and Costa Rican law enforcement officials had it renovated for about $75,000 over a period of about 10 months.

Renovated aircraft to look for suspicious maritime vessels


The Aerial Surveillance Service will use the restored aircraft to monitor Costa Rican waters where drug traffickers are active, including the Isla de Coco region.

“The F90 model now in operation with authorities in the Aerial Surveillance Service (SVA) was equipped for police and security use,” said Paul Chaves, a security analyst at the Universidad de la Luz de Costa Rica. “The plane will be able to reinforce maritime surveillance, patrols, and humanitarian actions.”

Manufactured in the United States, the Beechcraft King Air F90 is a popular aircraft for private use and is considered the most expensive and high-end plane seized from drug traffickers by Costa Rican security forces. It has the capacity to carry two crew members in the cabin and seven passengers – all in addition to a cargo load that can be increased by carrying less fuel. The plane is a twin turboprop powered by Pratt & Whitney PT6A-135A engines, which together produce 750 horsepower.

With the newly refurbished plane, the Costa Rican Air Force now has 15 aircraft seized from suspected drug traffickers that have performed well on security missions. In the course of anti-narcotic security operations, the planes perform overflights, detect suspicious vessels, and send naval units from the National Coast Guard to intercept and inspect them. Each Costa Rican security aircraft flies about 3,000 hours annually, with 65 percent of that time spent on police operations, 20 percent on humanitarian actions, such as search-and-rescue operations, and 15 percent transporting public officials, according to Repretel Costa Rica.

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