Less than two weeks after authorities announced the biggest drug bust recorded in Central American history, that record was broken.
On Sunday, a joint operation with Coast Guard officials from the United States, Colombia and Costa Rica intercepted a Costa Rican fishing boat with nearly eight metric tons of cocaine – weighing more than four mid-sized sport utility vehicles – near the Galapagos Islands, off the Pacific coast of Ecuador.
The quantity of drug seized is more than double the 3.5 tons found on a Costa Rican fishing boat Oct. 9, the former record holder (TT, Oct. 13).
Police Security Minister Fernando Berrocal would not release the name or registration number of the fishing boat for security reasons.
Six people were arrested aboard the boat, including four Costa Ricans from Playas del Coco, on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, where the boat departed last week, the daily La Nación reported.
According to the daily, the boat was expected to arrive back in Costa Rica Wednesday, but has been delayed as U.S. authorities investigate the detainees and check for outstanding warrants.
The fishing boat, accompanied by a U.S. Coast Guard boat, is now expected to arrive at the central Pacific port of Puntarenas today or tomorrow, depending on the weather.
Berrocal has requested the cocaine be forwarded to the United States for “ security reasons,” he told the Channel 7 TV News this week.
Officials believe high-speed motorboats loaded the fishing boat once it was at sea. Berrocal told the press following the Oct. 9 bust that he believes drug traffickers have switched their method of transporting drugs from South America north toward the world’s biggest cocaine consumer, the United States, ditching high-speed motorboats for Costa Rican fishing boats.
The boat detained Sunday was the fifth Costa Rican fishing boat carrying cocaine intercepted in the past year. The total amount of drug from these seizures is more than 14 metric tons.