The United States Embassy will donate $4.5 million to Costa Rica to build a new coast guard station and dock in Moín, Limón province, the Embassy said. The station will be set up through the Ministry of Public Security and the Board of Port Administration and Economic Development of the Atlantic Slope (JAPDEVA).
“We reaffirm our commitment to this important U.S.-funded project, which will fill a critical need for the National Coast Guard to effectively protect Costa Rica’s maritime areas and counter threats from transnational organized crime,” U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica Cynthia Telles told Diálogo on August 9. “It’s no secret that organized crime and narcotrafficking affect the lives of the people of Limón. There is no doubt that we will all be safer when Costa Rica’s maritime borders are better protected.”
The Embassy explained that JAPDEVA provided the land use permit for this project. The U.S. will donate the construction of the infrastructure and the Ministry of Public Security will purchase an 85-foot vessel to strengthen the war against organized crime in Limón.
“We recognize this effort by the United States. Today we take the first step to build better protection in our Atlantic waters. We are going to increase patrolling where we know that many narcotrafficking groups operate to penetrate Costa Rican territory,” Minister of Security Mario Zamora told local media Informa Churuca 5CR. “This will also allow us to receive international assistance in terms of deep-sea vessels and better protection of our maritime sovereignty.”
Both projects are in the architectural design stage and production of the plans, with completion projected for 2026, Limón Hoy reported.
“This new station will be installed in the best strategic point of the Costa Rican Caribbean. Not only for search and rescue operations, maritime traffic control, illegal fishing control, but also because it is located between the country’s two main export ports [APMT and the JAPDEVA port terminal],” Commissioner Martín Arias, director general of the Costa Rican National Coast Guard Service (SNGCR), told Diálogo. “These facilities are right next to the future station that will allow control and surveillance of these ports, rapid departure of our vessels to combat narcotrafficking, and control of movements of vessels suspected of contaminating ships.”
Cooperation on the high seas
The naval support the United States provides to Costa Rica illustrates the alliance that both nations maintain in favor of justice, law, and the defense of democracy, Commissioner Arias said.
“Undoubtedly, the alliance with our main partner has allowed us in a few years to have action and reaction capabilities against all criminal activities,” Commissioner Arias said. “We also benefited from courses, training, equipment, participation in joint air and maritime operations, and information, intelligence, and experience [exchange]. This allowed us to grow very fast despite having a coast guard that was only 23 years old, starting from nothing.”
Costa Rica’s war against organized crime is ongoing. On July 21, the SNGCR and the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ), with the support of U.S. entities, intercepted a boat with 605 kilograms of cocaine during a patrol carried out 167 kilometers from Cabo Matapalo, Puntarenas province, reported CR Hoy.
On July 29, in the same area, the Special Operations Group (GOPES) of Costa Rica’s SNGCR, with air support from the United States and Colombia, intercepted a speedboat carrying 2.5 tons of marijuana. Five Nicaraguans manned the boat, Canal 13 reported.
“Our country’s SNGCR has broken a historic record. It’s the first time that there is an interdiction operation on the high seas 350 kilometers from our coasts […] with support from U.S. aircraft and the Air Surveillance Section,” Minister Zamora told the press. “That boat was caught; we managed to bring it through the Coast Guard System to the port of Golfito.”
The OIJ reported that seizures from vessels from January to July exceeded 18.5 tons of narcotics.