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Photo via U.S. Coast Guard.

U.S. Coast Guard leads 2.5 tons drug seizure in Costa Rica's Dulce Gulf

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Published on Wednesday, May 29, 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 transporting over 2.5 tons of drugs.

According to the Ministry of Public Security, the case began on Sunday night 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.

Photo via Ministry of Public Security

U.S. officers warned the Costa Rican Coast Guards who followed the coordinates provided in the alert and were able to intercept on Monday, the 36-foot-long boat when it was crossing approximately 88 nautical miles off the Dulce Gulf in the Osa Peninsula.

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

Police detained three male crew members. Of these, two Costa Rican brothers surnamed Irias, 47 and 31 years old. With them a Nicaraguan surnamed Membreño (23).

Officers towed the boat to the Coast Guard Station in Golfito Port.

Photo via Ministry of Public Security

At the station on Tuesday, specialists from the Drug Control Police conducted a more thorough inspection and found 2,024 marijuana packages, plus 485 cocaine packages. All packages weighed approximately one kilo each.

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

The suspects were taken to the Puntarenas Prosecutor's Office, 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.

This is the U.S. Coast Guard's second anti-drug operation in Costa Rica in less than a week. On Monday, U.S. agents discovered a big cocaine cargo drifting a few miles off the Limón Province Coast.

The State Department’s 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, though 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 Rica’s security forces, improve local security throughout the country, reduce the influence of corruption, and enhance the justice sector’s 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 Rica’s capacity to confront the growing threat of organized crime and narco trafficking. 

Last month, the U.S. donated a $440,000 police station facility in Puerto Viejo Beach, Limón Province.  INL budget provided funding for the donation of the police station.

Recently, General Laura Richardson, Commander of U.S. Southern Command, announced that the U.S. intends to expand assistance for Costa Rica in its struggle to control all commercial exports and imports in ports.

In April, the U.S. donated to Costa Rica a police facility base, fishing boats and vehicles valued at $2 million. The base houses park rangers and border police officers.

According to the Ministry of Public Security, Costa Rica seized 43.5 tons of drugs and arrested over 190,000 offense suspects in 2023.


What might 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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