Four men caught off the coast of Limón with more than one ton of marijuana onboard their ship were allowed to walk free by ruling of an area judge Thursday. The decision led Costa Rica’s National Police Force to release a strongly worded response in disagreement with the court order, which did not even apply preliminary injunctions to the subjects.
When the men were arrested Wednesday on their high-speed boat in the Atlantic Ocean, some 75 kilometers off of the coast of Limón, they began to throw large bags into the sea at the sight of officials, according to a police report. Police said they found nearly 50 sacks of marijuana on board the ship that later weighed in at more than one ton.
The men were believed to be traveling from Jamaica, which authorities said was the origin of the drugs.
Public Security Minister Gustavo Mata expressed his disapproval of the ruling over social media Thursday afternoon. According to Mata, the judge made the decision to free the men because there was an error or miscommunication in reporting how much marijuana was actually confiscated from the vessel.
“The judge from Limón let them free and without an injunction, citing arguments that I respect but I do not agree with,” Mata said. “Now it would seem that they’re wanting to weaken the head-on fight that the Public Ministry has waged against drug trafficking.”
The men did not have any paperwork or licenses for the boat when they were detained, police said.
“What would have happened if they had been able to throw all the drugs into the sea and we didn’t retrieve them?” asked a public statement from police on Thursday night. “It’s clear that in that case they would have been charged with circumstantial evidence.”
The judge’s identity was not revealed by Public Security officials.