Costa Rica has seized nearly 23 metric tons of cocaine so far in 2014, more than any other country in Central America, Public Security Minister Celso Gamboa said on Monday. Gamboa said that so far this year, Costa Rica’s seizures by the Judicial Investigation Police and the Drug Control Police topped those by law enforcement agents in Panama, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua as of September, when Gamboa and other public security ministers from the region met with members of the U.S. military’s Southern Command.
The latest annual estimate came during the announcement of two seizures over the weekend totaling more than 600 kilograms of cocaine in Peñas Blancas, the country’s northern land border crossing with Nicaragua.
Gamboa acknowledged that Mexican organized criminal groups are the principal actors responsible for moving drugs and laundering money through Costa Rica and other countries on the isthmus. The minister did not connect any specific cartels to the drugs confiscated during the weekend.
Drug Control Police found 580 kilos of cocaine hidden in the walls of a container truck along with $3,600 in cash at Peñas Blancas, Guanacaste. The 34-year-old Nicaraguan driver of the Costa Rican-registered truck was headed to Nicaragua with a shipment of refrigerators when dogs found the drugs. In a second seizure, a 35-year-old Guatemalan driver was caught trying to smuggle back to his home country roughly 68 kilos of cocaine in the floor of his truck. Both suspects were remanded to the Prosecutor’s Office in the provincial capital of Liberia to await preventive measures.