San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Bust near Nicaragua border seizes half ton of cocaine

Three smugglers transporting a half ton of cocaine were arrested near the Nicaragua border on Monday night, according to the Public Security Ministry.

One Costa Rican and two Nicaraguans were arrested in La Cruz, a city just south of the border at Peñas Blancas.

A report from Allan Obando, head of border police in the Northern Zone, said the arrest occurred at 11 p.m. The packets of cocaine were found hidden inside a Toyota Tacoma. Suspects were a 24-year-old Costa Rican and two Nicaraguans aged 27 and 38. The latter two tried to flee from police during the operation.

Drug Control Police also were present at the bust. Anti-narcotics agents tallied 23 bags of cocaine totaling 500 kilograms. They also confiscated a pistol, ammunition, $960 and ₡116,000 ($232).

The ministry said it has increased border presence in the area in recent weeks. Visitors crossing the border now face more frequent checkpoints while traveling through Costa Rica.

The suspects could face charges of international drug trafficking, which has a maximum sentence of up to 20 years.

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