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U.S. Navy vessel hands over seized marijuana to Costa Rican authorities

September 18, 2012

After almost a month, U.S. Navy frigate USS Carr was granted permission to deliver to Costa Rican authorities a part of a shipment of two tons of marijuana seized in Caribbean waters last August. The cargo will serve as evidence in the trials of the three detainees.

The vessel waited in international waters for weeks for Costa Rican lawmakers to authorize a docking in Costa Rica. The boat finally arrived Monday morning at the Port of Caldera, in the province of Puntarenas, after lawmakers approved its berth earlier this month.

The USS Carr planned to deliver the drugs via a Costa Rican port in mid-August, but Citizen Action Party lawmakers Claudio Monge and Juan Carlos Mendoza filibustered a vote in the Legislative Assembly to approve a docking permit. The two lawmakers continued giving speeches up to the deadline for the vote.

Costa Rica and the United States have an agreement of joint patrols and permits for entry and berthing of certain U.S. government ships, but the USS Carr was not one of them.

Carlos Góngora, a lawmaker with the Libertarian Movement and chairman of the Commission on Security and Drug Trafficking, said he “will propose a reform that allows for vessels entering national waters to help fight drug trafficking.” To expedite the process, Góngora intends for it to be approved by the Ministry of Security and not by the Legislative Assembly.

The drugs were seized by the Navy frigate on Aug. 12 during an operation in Nicaraguan waters, where a Nicaraguan national and two Costa Ricans were arrested and imprisoned, pending trial.

The U.S. Navy authorities delivered only some of the drugs, but it was enough to present as evidence before the court.The rest of the drugs will be destroyed.

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