San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

2.5 Tons of Cocaine Discovered

COSTA Rican authorities uncoveredapproximately 2,550 kilograms ofcocaine Saturday, valued at $40 million,marking the biggest seizure of the drug onCosta Rican soil in history.The more than two-and-a-half metrictons of cocaine were buried on abeach near Laguna de Samay, inColorado de Pococí, Limón, on the northernCaribbean coast. Seven men and one17-year-old were arrested the same dayin a house approximately one kilometerfrom where the drugs were found,according to Public Security MinisterRogelio Ramos.At a press conference Saturday, Ramosexpressed satisfaction with the bust, whichoccurred that morning at 5:30 am, andcharacterized it as the fruit of months ofintense police work in that area.HE said the Public Security Ministryincreased its presence on the Caribbeancoast beginning in February in an operationcalled “Sea, Land and Air,” and onApril 13 had found a boat run aground thathad “all the characteristics of a boat thattransported drugs,” including radio equipment.The find alerted the police, who uppedtheir activities and patrols in the area.Thanks to cooperation and informationfrom people in the community, police wereable to pinpoint the drugs and the suspectedtraffickers, Ramos said.Authorities believe the suspects weremost likely bringing the cocaine fromColombia to a destination further north,such as Guatemala or Honduras, whentheir boat had mechanical problems andforced them to land. The Costa Ricandaily La Nación reported that neighborsobserved the suspects unloading packagesthroughout the night and into theearly morning of April 13.THE suspected traffickers most likelydid not have local support, Ramos said,and so were forced to hide out and waitwhile the increased police activity followingthe discovery of their boat kept thempinned down in the small wooden shacknear the buried drugs. The operation thatsnared the suspects involved approximately40 police officers from five differentdivisions of the Public Security Ministry,Ramos explained, and as the name of theoperation suggests, included patrols on thesea, in the air and by land.The suspects are almost all foreigners,and include one U.S. citizen, fourColombians, and two Nicaraguans. All theadults have been given six-month preventivedetention orders. If convicted, theycould face between eight and 20 years inprison. The only Costa Rican of the groupwas the minor, who has been released forreasons known only to the judge in case,though he could still face charges.Police say there are most likely moresuspects in the area, and authorities arecontinuing their investigations.“THIS shows that the Caribbean zonecontinues to be a very important route fortrafficking drugs,” Ramos said.The cocaine, which was later broughtto San José by airplane, has been transferredfor safekeeping and eventualdestruction to a Department of JudicialInvestigations laboratory in San Joaquín deFlores, in Heredia, north of San José.In other drug-related news, the CostaRican daily Al Día reported Tuesday that aCosta Rican mother of four who was transportingcocaine in her stomach died April 5of a heart attack moments after beingpulled aside for questioning in the Gatwickairport in London.The woman, who had no prior record,was carrying 75 packets of cocaine in herstomach.

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