San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica makes large drug seizure near beach where conservationist was slain

Costa Rican police seized 1,200 kilograms of marijuana from two drug boats on a Caribbean beach on Saturday, near the area where turtle conservationist Jairo Mora was slain on May 31, the Public Security Ministry reported on Sunday.

“The seizure of drug fast boats and 44 packages of ‘High Red’ marijuana (on Saturday) followed a chase and exchange of gunfire at Moín, until the boats were beached at Cieneguita Beach,” the ministry said in a press release.

The suspected traffickers remain at large, although police recovered an I.D. with the last name Sevilla, a man who has a criminal record in Costa Rica.

The ministry said both boats, which were confiscated by the Coast Guard, had the Costa Rican flag painted on their sides.

The police operation took place close to Moín Beach, 170 kilometers east of the capital, where Mora was found beaten to death and stuffed in a turtle nest by suspected drug traffickers or turtle poachers operating in the area.

Mora, 26, had reported receiving death threats before he was slain, and conservationists in Costa Rica have criticized the government for failing to respond to reports that drug traffickers and organized crime syndicates are preventing environmental workers from carrying out their jobs. Several environmental groups are offering a total of $40,000 in rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Mora’s killers. Police have made no arrests in the case.

The Public Security Ministry said that four police airplanes were needed to transport the seized drugs to the capital.

Earlier this year, police confiscated more than 1,700 kg of cocaine from an abandoned drug boat in the same area.

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