Barely one hour after the official opening of a new police checkpoint Thursday at Kilometer 35 of the southern stretch of the Inter-American Highway, National Police officers seized a shipment of contraband merchandise inside a bus owned by a company that travels between Panama and Costa Rica, the Public Security Ministry reported.
The bus driver hid the contraband cargo – mostly cellphone accessories and several pairs of sneakers – in a concealed compartment of the bus. The total value of the cargo has not yet been estimated, the ministry’s press office said.
The new checkpoint was inaugurated by Public Security Minister Celso Gamboa and officials of the United States Embassy. The facilities were built with an investment of $1.28 million donated by the U.S. government.
The facilities include offices for several agencies, including anti-drug enforcement, immigration and fiscal control police.
The bus driver, whose last name is Montenegro, was sent to a local police station, and the merchandise was sent to the Fiscal Police in a tax evasion investigation.
Although the official inauguration didn’t take place until Thursday morning, the checkpoint has been in operation for a month. In that time, officers have seized ₡43 million in cash ($80,000), two kilograms of cocaine and beer. Several individuals with irregular immigration statuses also have been detained, the Public Security Ministry said.