An unassuming fishing boat named Yorleny II continued making headlines this week as the biggest at-sea drug bust this year.
U.S. and Costa Rican Coast Guard authorities intercepted the boat 250 nautical miles off the coast of the northwestern Guanacaste province near the Nicaraguan border on Nov. 28. They caught the sevenmember crew in the act of transferring packets of the drugs to a Mexican boat.Upon seeing authorities approach, crew members began throwing their cargo overboard.
As Drug Control Police continued to search the area this week, they found a total of 4.5 metric tons of cocaine hidden aboard the Yorleny II, on the ocean floor and on the Mexican boat, the Jurel IV.
Police believe the drugs were being carried from the Colombian port of Buenaventura, suggesting a link between Colombian, Mexican and Costa Rican drug-trafficking operations.
Six Costa Ricans and one Nicaraguan were arrested aboard the Yorleny II and face drug trafficking charges before the Prosecutor’s Office in the Pacific port of Puntarenas.
The seizure is the biggest made through a joint effort between U.S. and Costa Rican Coast Guard authorities so far this year, according to a statement from the Public Security Ministry.
Public Security Minister Fernando Berrocal met this week with a U.S. military chief to urge more of this type of teamwork.
Rear Adm. Joseph Nimmich, commander of the Joint Interagency Task Force South in Key West, Florida, came to Costa Rica and talked to Berrocal about how to curb drug trafficking and organized crime, patting him on the back for Costa Rica’s recent success in catching maritime drug smugglers.
In the past 16 months, the government has nabbed 60 metric tons of cocaine, an unprecedented figure by Latin American standards.
Berrocal asked Nimmich for greater U.S. cooperation in clamping down on narcotics, not just at sea, but also domestically, in schoolyards and on street corners.
Significant Cocaine Busts this Year
Jan. 12 1,905 Kilos
Jan. 22 2,050 Kilos
March 1,644 Kilos
April 24 3,140 Kilos
May 2 2,200 Kilos
June 7 2,537 Kilos
Aug. 1 1,250 Kilos
Aug. 7 1,500 Kilos
Oct. 27 1,125 Kilos
Nov. 28 4,500 Kilos