This post was updated at 11:21 a.m., May 7, 2014
Roughly 4.5 metric tons of cocaine originating in and traveling through Costa Rican territory has been seized in the last 24 hours, Public Security Minister Mario Zamora said.
Zamora confirmed that the Costa Rican Coast Guard seized 1.9 tons of cocaine on board two fishing boats off the Pacific coast near the city of Golfito on Tuesday.
“This is the most important seizure in years,” Zamora said during a press conference on Wednesday. “I have the honor of saying goodbye with the announcement of one of the greatest strikes against drug trafficking in recent years,” he added.
Zamora and the rest of the Chinchilla administration leave office on Thursday.
The cocaine confiscated Tuesday brings the total amount of cocaine seized during the Chinchilla administration to nearly 52 tons.
Incoming Public Security Minister Celso Gamboa credited the assistance of a U.S. radar plane in the discovery of the vessels, which traveled along a known drug trafficking route toward the United States.
Zamora said that the three Costa Ricans arrested in connection with the operation did not have prior criminal records. The outgoing minister lamented that drug traffickers target fishermen to ferry narcotics because of their low profile. If convicted, the fishermen could face between eight and 10 years in prison.
The minister added that Spanish port authorities reported finding 2.5 tons of cocaine inside a container of pineapples that originated in Costa Rica’s Caribbean port of Moín.
Zamora said that the 1.9- and 2.5-ton seizures in the last 24 hours were the largest in recent history for the small Central American nation.