San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Drug Traffickers Burn Boat, Jump Ship

When suspected drug traffickers riding in a boat off the Pacific coast realized that authorities had caught onto them, they decided it was time for a Viking funeral.

The four Colombian suspects lit the boat on fire and jumped ship, according to Public Security Minister Fernando Berrocal.

“It’s the third boat in recent months that drug traffickers have burned in attempts to hide proof,” Berrocal said, adding that the boat and suspected contraband sank in 100-meter-deep water Monday. Attempts to fish out the wreckage with a shrimp boat and scuba divers were fruitless.

The burned boat was one of two speedboats that authorities caught onto this week. In another U.S.-backed drug operation off Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, smugglers fleeing authorities arrived on the NicoyaPeninsula and sent their boat carrying nearly a ton of cocaine back into the ocean before trying to hide inland.

The boat was found July 9 at Playa Manzanillo, after it apparently turned around and came back to shore. Four suspects were detained on the southern Nicoya peninsula, and given six months of preventive prison.

Costa Rican authorities had the assistance of the U.S. Coast Guard, and in both cases, all the suspects were Colombians.

Berrocal said that during the Arias administration’s 14 months in power, nearly 50 metric tons of cocaine have been seized.

The stakes were raised last week when Berrocal and Presidency Minister Rodrigo Arias were the target of a foiled assassination plot allegedly conceived by a Colombian drug cartel (TT, July 6).


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