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U.S. Embassy makes donation to support air surveillance operations in Costa Rica

January 20, 2017
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The U.S. Embassy in San José gave Costa Rica’s Public Security Ministry a $1 million donation consisting of spare parts, equipment and maintenance service for an aircraft, the ministry reported in a news release.

U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica S. Fitzgerald Haney – who just one day earlier announced he had been given leave to continue in his post after the inauguration of Donald Trump –  made the donation on Thursday at a special ceremony held at Juan Santamaría International Airport in Alajuela.

Public Security Minister Gustavo Mata said at the ceremony that the resources will be used in operations of the ministry’s Air Surveillance Service. In particular, the new resources will support special missions carried out using an aircraft seized from two drug smugglers.

Drug Control Police officers confiscated the plane, a King Air F90, from two Guatemalan nationals in December 2013. Cops arrested the men —father and son— in a mountainous region of the Caribbean province of Limón where they were trying to smuggle two tons of cocaine on the plane.

Since 2014, Air Surveillance Service officers have been taking advantage of the aircraft’s high capacity and speed in surveillance, environmental protection and humanitarian missions, as well as in special operations against drug trafficking, the ministry reported.

For example, the plane allows Public Security officials to travel to Cocos Island in just 90 minutes. It takes some 36 hours for the ministry’s Coast Guard vessels to reach the island’s waters.

The spacious aircraft also has been used to transport food, medicine and emergency supplies during humanitarian missions, and as an air ambulance to transport patients from remote locations in shorter time and under better conditions, the ministry noted.

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