Explainer: What do Costa Rican authorities do with 4.1 tons of seized cocaine?

June 13, 2014
1 Comments

Congratulations, you’ve seized a record-breaking 4.1 metric tons of cocaine, more than any other seizure in Costa Rican history. Now what do you do with it?

Police arrested 11 Costa Rican fishermen in three separate operations in the country’s Southern Zone Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning, with assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard and Drug Enforcement Agency. TV Channel 7 News reported that the confiscated drugs and suspects came ashore Thursday.

The seizure looks good on paper, but it ends up a white elephant (or maybe a white pony) after the fact.

Carlos Hidalgo, press spokesman for the Public Security Ministry, explained to The Tico Times that after the initial arrests a judge from the Drug Control Police needs to be present during field tests to verify the substances seized. This process involves weighing the confiscated drugs and repackaging them for transport.

The Prosecutor’s Office then requests a certain amount of the narcotics as evidence for trial.

Hidalgo said that any confiscated narcotics not required for trial are then set to be destroyed. If the operation is a joint effort with the United States, like these were, the U.S. Coast Guard could bring the drugs to the United States for destruction there.

“There is a strict chain of custody of seized drugs until they are taken to any of the several labs in the U.S., where there are incinerators to destroy the drugs. Once the process is finished, a notification of destruction is issued and included in the case file,” the U.S. Embassy in San José replied to The Tico Times in an email.

Any cocaine seized that remains in Costa Rica after the trial is taken to a Public Security Ministry facility in Heredia, north of the capital, where it is also incinerated.

You may be interested

Adaptive surfing, part II: The story of Dean Bushby
sports
147 views
sports
147 views

Adaptive surfing, part II: The story of Dean Bushby

Ellen Zoe Golden - May 22, 2018

A three-part look at adaptive surfing in Costa Rica. Read Part I here to learn how a Central Pacific coach is…

Costa Rica launches Pride Connection network
Human rights
178 views
Human rights
178 views

Costa Rica launches Pride Connection network

Elizabeth Lang - May 22, 2018

As Costa Rica continues to grapple with the disagreements about marriage equality and gender identity that dominated the second round…

Costa Rica at a glance: top news from the past week
The Alvarado Administration
207 views
The Alvarado Administration
207 views

Costa Rica at a glance: top news from the past week

The Tico Times - May 21, 2018

Newly inaugurated Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado is closing in on two weeks on the job. Here are some of…