San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Costa Rica

Police discover 33 illegal landing strips along Pacific coast

From Costa Rica’s southern border with Panama north to Nicaragua, police discovered dozens of clandestine airstrips in a series of recent flyovers along the country’s Pacific coast. In total, police spotted 33 landing strips, nearly all of them located near beaches or navegable rivers, the Public Security Ministry said Wednesday.

Officials logged more than 550 hours of flight time to discover the hidden runways. Many were found far away from any populated areas and appeared hastily built in pastures and farmlands.

Police said some of the runways had once been used for transporting agricultural products but were likely now being used for illicit means.

A map details the exact coordinates of illegal runways, designated by red triangles, along the Nicoya Peninsula.

(Public Security Ministry)

Of the secret landing strips found, 18 were in the northern Pacific region, including multiple strips in the canton of Santa Cruz and near Playa Flamingo. Another eight were discovered in the southern Pacific region, including two in the Osa Peninsula.

The announcement from the Public Security Ministry comes a day after a plane crashed off the coast of the southwestern town of Puerto Jiménez in the Osa Peninsula. Investigators believe the plane and the body of its apparent pilot were connected to an abandoned car that was found nearby with 352 kilograms of cocaine in it.

Police discovered identification on the body belonging to a 55-year-old Mexican man named Óscar Omar González Castillo as well as Mexican currency, according to the Public Security Ministry.

Police officials said they plan to share the information obtained from the flyovers with the Civil Aviation Authority in order to increase surveillance of illegal air traffic and drug trafficking through Costa Rica.

Since June 2015, seven suspected drug-trafficking planes have been discovered or have crashed in Costa Rica. On April 7, a plane carrying 150 kilograms of cocaine and $45,000 in cash crashed at a clandestine runway in Nosara, Guanacaste, killing the two people on board.

Contact Michael Krumholtz at

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Mark Kahle

For over 14 years drugs…all of them… have been decriminalized in Portugal. The results are outrageous. Outrageous in the most astonishing way… the “war on drugs” is a proven failure.

That article is properly footnoted and the surrounding facts presented are annotated.

Time for the war on drugs to end… there is actual proof that it is the problem and not a cure in any way at all.

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I wouldn’t oppose legalizing marijuana for medical use as long as the marijuana did not contain THC. This is how it is in Israel. I am sure that crybaby potheads would complain and fabricate some other reason to legalize it. As for cocaine, heroin and similar narcotics, I agree with Landshark. Out of the question.

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Haven’t we figured out yet this is never going to end. Again, why not decriminalize it period. Grow it, tax it. The argument it will destroy, society, families and individuals. Well we all have our freedom to some extent. Choices we make IE Drunks, Pot smokers, coke heads… Medical marijuana bill got stalled here in CR. What a shame just make it legal to grow a few plants and or have places allowed to sell it. Tax money Look at Colorado making a tidy amount for sure.

Note Ecuador decriminalized it there. Now many areas, the people smoke it in the open and been fewer problems. CR could take a look and figure it out need some diputados with a pair to support the marijuana bill. Time has come. Oh by the way all those in prison with non violent crime connect with drugs let them out as well.

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Pot is one thing, and the scientific debate rages regarding its medicinal value vs. the ill effects of long term use especially when smoked. But the idea of decriminalizing cocaine and heroine is simply out of the question.

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Mark Kahle

Landshark…. and yet all actual provable fact says that more people per capita are addicted to any and all drugs since the inception of criminalization than before when it was all “over the counter”.

That does not include the violence that exists for the very same reason… with prohibition comes crime.

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