Costa Rica’s new public security minister, Celso Gamboa, reiterated his support for joint maritime patrols with the United States, in a press conference announcing his team of vice ministers on Monday.
“One of my principal recommendations to President Luis Guillermo Solís has been to maintain these patrols, because they have demonstrated that they are serious, they work, and [the U.S.] has shown strict respect for Costa Rican sovereignty,” the minister said.
“Costa Rica decided to sign these agreements because they’ve been very valid and effective in shielding the country from the effects of [criminal] groups,” Gamboa added.
Gamboa, who was vice minister of public security in former President Laura Chinchilla’s government, has been a vocal supporter of the patrols and cooperation with the United States. Former Public Security Minister Mario Zamora credited the joint operations with helping the Chinchilla administration seize nearly 54 metric tons of cocaine during her term, reportedly more than any other Central American country.
The U.S. and Costa Rica signed joint maritime patrols for illegal fishing, anti-drug and search and rescue operations in 1999.
Gamboa said the drug trafficking conflict is not bounded by national borders, and he noted the importance of sharing information between Central American nations. He also called for better coordination across the isthmus on criminal drug charges.
The new public security minister emphasized his plans to focus on prevention. Gamboa named María Fulmen as a vice minister tasked with overseeing prevention programs and community outreach, as well as improving training and facilities of the National Police.
The minister named Gustavo Mata, former assistant director of the Judicial Investigation Police, as another vice minister tasked with operations.
Bernardita Marín was named vice minister for administrative affairs.
Gamboa also announced the first drug seizure of the Solís administration: 307 kilograms of cocaine found in Limón in a container originating in Colombia.
Solís took office May 8.