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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Costa Rica cops dismantle drug smuggling ring that used local postal service

Costa Rican Drug Control Police (PCD) arrested seven suspects – four Costa Ricans and three foreign nationals – allegedly involved in an international drug-smuggling ring during several raids across the capital Wednesday morning. 

The illegal operation allegedly relied on the Costa Rican postal service, Correos de Costa Rica, S.A., to import drugs into the country and export them to Europe and Nicaragua, according to a statement from the PCD.

On Wednesday morning, authorities seized 11,000 doses of ecstasy valued at more than $220,000 as it entered Costa Rica, presumably for domestic consumption. Law enforcement agents also seized 1,571 grams of cocaine destined for Europe.

Raids took place at seven locations across the city, including the offices of Correos de Costa Rica and a delivery service named O.C.S. Courier, located in central San José. 

Costa Rica appears to have operated as a way station for the drugs.

The syndicate exported drugs from Costa Rica to Nicaragua and cocaine to Holland. The group also imported ecstasy from Holland and Germany for the local market.   

Public Security Minister Mario Zamora said that there were no known ecstasy laboratories in the Central American country, and Costa Rica is a net importer of the synthetic drug.

Zamora opined that tourists from the United States or Europe, where there is greater familiarity with the club drug, are the typical users of the drug in Costa Rica.

The drug ring’s leader was identified as a Lithuanian citizen, but the organization was international, including citizens from Colombia, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

The minister said that the investigation began on Aug. 10, 2012. Zamora did not know the quantity of drugs that were shipped via the Costa Rican mail service, but he noted that packages from the syndicate moved frequently.

Authorities identified the seven suspects by their last name, including a Lithuanian citizen named Zukauskas, 55, and two Romanians, a 33-year-old named Calota and a 28-year-old woman named Vilceanu.

Authorities also arrested three Costa Ricans employees of Correos de Costa Rica, a 33-year-old named Vargas who worked at the company’s Escazú branch; and two who worked in the Corres de Costa Rica Mail Processing Center – Rivera, 45, and Castillo, 41.

Law enforcement arrested another Tico, a 45-year-old suspect with the last name Montero, who worked for O.C.S. 

Authorities found cocaine, methamphetamines and ecstasy in eight other packages seized from November 2012 to June 2013.  

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