The Bureau of International Narcotics, Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the Defense Attaché Office of the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica donated $1.8 million in equipment and tools to strengthen the Costa Rican Coast Guard (SNGCR) in its fight against narcotrafficking, the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica indicated in a statement.
“State-of-the-art equipment such as interceptor boats, secure communications, and individual equipment provide security and motivation to personnel on high-risk missions,” Commissioner Martín Arias, Costa Rica’s vice minister of Public Security and director of the SNGCR, told Diálogo on October 11. “Up to date and prompt intelligence is vital for maritime and aerial narcotrafficking surveillance. In the case of maritime activities, [support] from the United States is vital.”
The donation, delivered on September 14, included three pick-up vehicles, two 4×4 utility vehicles, three cargo containers of tools, and equipment for patrol boats and speedboats maintenance, the U.S. Embassy said. The donation also includes repair of the patrol boat Juan Rafael Mora, which now has a six-meter-long rigid-hulled inflatable boat, and personal protection and safety equipment for the maritime interdiction unit.
“The U.S. government works tirelessly with Costa Rica and countries of the region to accomplish complex missions to enhance our regional security,” U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mark Fedor, director of Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATFS South), said during the handover. “Countering the regional threat that is narcotrafficking requires a coordinated multinational response from partners, allies, and friends. No one country has sufficient resources, information, capacity, assets, or people to deal with these threats alone.”
“This donation from the U.S. government is very clearly related to [Costa Rica’s] initial message to guarantee the security of the country’s territory, for which international cooperation is fundamental,” Costa Rican criminologist and security expert Erick Villalba, told Diálogo. “In this context, I believe that there are three key allies: The United States, Colombia, and Panama.”
As an example of the coordinated response among partner nations, and thanks to the Joint Patrol Agreement between the United States and Costa Rica in force since 1999, on September 22, 2022, authorities seized 640 kilograms of cocaine in a boat that had a system for concealing drugs with a hydraulic door.
“On our part, continuous and professional training maintains fundamental skill levels for the effective interdiction and capture of shipments and narcotraffickers,” Commissioner Arias said. “In addition, it allows for severe criminal sentences to be imposed on offenders.”
Another result of the cooperation between the two nations was the seizure of a boat with 2,000 kg of cocaine off the coast of the province of Limón, thanks to logistics support U.S. aircraft and vessels provided, the Costa Rican Ministry of Security said on September 13.
That same day, Admiral Linda Fagan, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, met with Costa Rican President Rodrigo Chaves and leaders of the Public Force to discuss strategies to combat organized crime along the coast, the Costa Rican presidency said.
“This collaboration with the government of Costa Rica, being a country that has positively managed to carry out a great task, which is to maintain the fight against narcotrafficking… from my position as commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, I share the synchronization of efforts for the country’s benefit,” Adm. Fagan said.
In August 2022 alone, Costa Rica seized 2,836 kg of cocaine, the Costa Rican Drug Institute’s Statistical Bulletin of National Drug Information and Statistics Unit indicated.