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Golfito judge releases three Costa Rican suspects 24 hours after they were busted with 2 tons of cocaine

May 7, 2014

It’s starting to sound like a broken record.

On Wednesday, 24 hours after the Costa Rican Coast Guard nabbed two fishing boats with 1.9 tons of cocaine onboard in Golfito, a southern Pacific port city, Judge Jeffrey Mora Sánchez ordered the release of the three Costa Rican men who were detained in the operation.

Just hours earlier, Public Security Minister Mario Zamora had celebrated the arrests, saying it was “the most important [drug] seizure in years.”

“I have the honor of saying goodbye with the announcement of one of the greatest strikes against drug trafficking in recent years,” Zamora said.

Or so it seemed.

But Judge Mora didn’t feel the three suspects, aged 26, 29 and 38 and with the last names Quirós Vásquez, Miranda Vásquez and Quirós Ledezma, were flight risks because they live in the area and have families there. He denied a prosecutor’s motion for preventive detention, releasing the suspects on their own recognizance.

However, prosecutors believe that getting caught with two tons of cocaine 40 minutes northwest of the Panamanian border does make a pretty convincing argument for preventive detention. The Prosecutor’s Office appealed Judge Mora’s ruling, arguing that the suspects are a flight risk “due to the severity and nature of the crime of international drug trafficking, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison,” according to a statement the office issued Wednesday night.

But prosecutors were unable to file an appeal of the judge’s ruling until 4:40 p.m. – 10 minutes after the court closed. And since tomorrow is a holiday, the court doesn’t reopen and won’t be able to rule on that appeal until Friday.

“The Golfito Prosecutor’s Office must wait until the Criminal Court sets a date and time to review the appeal, in which we will again request preventive detention,” the statement said.

Recommended: Alleged drug kingpin could be released this month from low-security Costa Rica prison after serving less than half of his sentence

 

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