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Agents from the Judicial Investigation Organization, OIJ, arrested a man on suspicion of the crime of developing a laboratory
for the production of hydroponic marijuana.   -  Judicial Investigation Organization photo -

Published Thursday, June 10, 2021

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Agents from the Judicial Investigation Organization, OIJ, arrested on Wednesday a man, surnamed Vega-Lopez, on suspicion of the crime of developing a laboratory for the production of hydroponic marijuana.

According to the police report, the case started in May when an anonymous call was received about the marijuana laboratory that a man had in the back of his house.

The investigation led the agents to determine that Vega-Lopez in addition to allegedly growing marijuana was also selling the illegal plant.

The man was detained during a raid of his house located in the Pueblo Nuevo community in Alajuela Province.

During the raid, the agents seized 224 marijuana plants, air conditioning equipment, lamps and electrical instruments apparently used for the care and cultivation of the plants.

In addition, plastic wrappers with pieces of marijuana, a dose of methamphetamine, a cell phone and a machine to record weights were also seized.

As part of the anti-drug operation, two K-9 agents from the OIJ Canine Unit were used. One of the dogs detected drug traces in several rooms of the house and inside the car of the suspect, the police said.

All the items seized, including the plants, are now evidence in the case.

The suspect was taken to the cells of the Public Ministry where he was interrogated by the judicial agents. He is now waiting until a judge orders the pre-trial measures against him.

This is the second case this week of OIJ arresting people as suspects of developing marijuana hydroponic labs.

On Monday, OIJ agents arrested five men, all Costa Ricans, on suspicion of growing a hydroponic marijuana laboratory and drug trafficking.

This case began in April when the agents got an anonymous report about the growth of marijuana plants inside a house in Escazú Canton, San José Province.

With the collaboration of officers from the Escazu Municipal Police, the agents raided two houses. In one house police officers found the marijuana lab and some of the suspects. In the second house, the remaining suspects were arrested.

The five men, surnamed Mattis-Chavarría, 25, Zúñiga-Peña, 27, Saénz-Quirós, 26, Chen-Gu, 21 and Flores-Esquivel, 21, were arrested on suspicion of maintaining the marijuana lab and selling marijuana products using the door-to-door service. A judge ordered pre-trial measures against them.

The agents seized cash, more than 500 marijuana plants, hallucinogenic mushrooms, capsules made with mushrooms extract substances, guns, implements for packaging the drug, products and oil derived from the marijuana, special lighting equipment, air conditioners, irrigation systems for plants, fertilizers among other equipment. Everything that was seized to be used as evidence in the case.

Agents make a call to report any suspicion of marijuana grown labs or drug trafficking to the confidential line 800-8000-645, where there are bilingual agents who can answer calls in English or Spanish.

What is the punishment for growing marijuana in your country?
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