Officers from the Coast Guard and the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) on Thursday night seized at least 600 kilograms of cocaine from a speedboat and arrested three men in the Caribbean province of Limón.
The three men, Colombian nationals, dumped the drugs into the sea in an attempt to escape from police, Coast Guard Director Martín Arias said in a press conference on Friday.
Officers spotted the boat around midnight and began the chase.
“When the suspects were chased, they left the engines running and jumped into the sea, where they had to be rescued,” Arias said.
Officials are taking inventory of the drug shipment, estimated at 600-1,000 kilos of cocaine.
The capture of the three men took place some 20 miles offshore in front of Tortuguero Beach, 250 miles northeast of San José.
Arias said Costa Rican officials had obtained information from agencies in other countries that a drug shipment would be made in the area.
“The boat left Colombia and was hidden for a few days in Panama. They were probably heading to Belize, Guatemala or further north, we’re not certain. Those boats usually carry at least a ton of drugs,” Arias said.
Costa Rica’s Caribbean region is a common route for drug traffickers shipping cocaine north, and importing marijuana from Jamaica. Earlier this year, Costa Rican police seized 1,730 kilos of cocaine in an abandoned boat. Last month, they seized 1,200 kilos of marijuana.
International drug trafficking in Costa Rica is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.