San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Stagehand Busted with Cocaine in Stomach

A stagehand from the National Theater was arrested at JuanSantamaríaInternationalAirport last week for attempting to carry on excess – and illegal – baggage in his stomach.

The man, identified by police only by his last name, Rodríguez, is a drug-runner known as a “mule.” He had swallowed a Tico record-setting 122 sealed packets of cocaine, according to a statement from the Drug Control Police (PCD).

The nearly two kilograms of cocaine were headed to Madrid, Spain, in the 40-year-old’s stomach. Upon arrest, Rodríguez was transferred to the Alajuela hospital, where his stomach contents were verified by X-ray. It took him 30 hours to expel the packets, according to authorities.

The practice of smuggling cocaine inside the body is growing increasingly common, according to police, though the quantity Rodríguez was carrying is considered at least double the usual amount –and is believed to be the most ever found inside the body of a Costa Rican drug smuggler.

According to a report in the daily La Nación, friends, co-workers and neighbors were shocked to hear the news about Rodríguez, who has been happily married for 22 years and is the father of a teenager.

That same day, a German woman, who gave herself away because of “nervousness,” was searched then apprehended for attempting to smuggle 4.8 grams of cocaine in the false bottom of a suitcase. A Guatemalan man, headed for Amsterdam, was also discovered and arrested with a poorly hidden 5.1 grams of cocaine later that afternoon.

So far this year, 29 drug traffickers have been detained at the airport, according to authorities.

The recent arrests come on the heels of an announcement by the Judicial Investigation Police this month that the country has become “a storage room” for narcotics smugglers (TT, June 15).


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