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Photo via Ministry of Public Security.

U.S. Coast Guard leads 1.7-ton drugs seizure in Costa Rica

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Published on Tuesday, June 25, 2024
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As part of the Joint Patrol Treaty with the United States, in a special anti-drug operation, the U.S. Coast Guard led the arrest of three suspects for trafficking over 1.7 tons of drugs.

According to the Ministry of Public Security, the case began on Sunday when a U.S. Coast Guard plane spotted a suspicious small bass fishing boat crossing the Costa Rica Pacific Coast with no visible registration plate number or country flag.

U.S. officials instructed the Costa Rican Coast Guard to follow the alert's coordinates to intercept the 32-foot-long boat around one nautical mile off San Pedrillo Beach in Osa Peninsula.

Costa Rican officers found large bags containing drugs along with many large fuel containers and navigation equipment.

They arrested three male crew members identified as two Costa Ricans and one Nicaraguan.

Police towed the boat to the Quepos Beach Coast Guard Station.

At the place on Monday, specialists from the Drug Control Police conducted a more thorough inspection and found 1,704 marijuana and 10 cocaine packages.

The boat, drugs, fuel and electronic navigation equipment were confiscated as evidence in this case.

The police have not yet released the names of the suspects, who were taken to the cells of the Puntarenas Public Ministry, where they must wait for a judge to order pre-trial prison for those indicted of the alleged crime of international drug trafficking.

Authorities call for people to report any suspicion of drug sales or trafficking to the ten-digit confidential line 800-8000-645 or fast line 11-76, where bilingual agents can answer calls in English or Spanish.

According to the ministry, so far this year Costa Rica seized almost 9.5 tons of cocaine and about 8.5 tons of marijuana. 

Last year, Security authorities seized 43.5 tons of drugs and arrested over 190,000 suspects.

The State Departmentís Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) works closely with Costa Rican security partners.

Through cooperation and assistance from INL and other law enforcement agencies, Costa Rica confronts its drug trafficking problem by intercepting and confiscating illicit drugs.

According to the U.S. Department of State, narcotics seizures by the Costa Rican government hit new records in 2020 and 2021, with 72.7 and 71.1 metric tons seized respectively. However, seizures declined in 2022 to 54.3 metric tons.

The U.S. assigned over $269 million in bilateral and regional security assistance to strengthen and modernize Costa Ricaís security forces, improve local security throughout the country, reduce the influence of corruption, and enhance the justice sectorís ability to investigate and prosecute transnational criminals, the Department of State, added in its statement.

This assistance includes equipment donations, training, and technical assistance that enhance Costa Ricaís capacity to confront the growing threat of organized crime and narco-trafficking. 

Early this month, the United States ​​donated almost $700,000 to the Ministry of Public Security to improve security tactics and equipment for police officers and agents of the Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ).

What should the U.S. do to help Costa Rica combat drug trafficking? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to


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