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Police arrest suspect carrying marijuana-based medicine and other pharmaceuticals at Nicaraguan border

January 5, 2015

Police arrested a man carrying more than 12,000 units of various contraband drugs across the border from Nicaragua into Costa Rica on Sunday, according to a statement from the Public Security Ministry. The man, whose last name is Jarquín, was carrying the drugs in a suitcase in a secluded area near the Peñas Blancas border crossing. Among the thousands of items in the suitcase were several containers of a marijuana-based anti-inflammatory cream known as Mariguanol.

Illicit drugs tend to draw the most attention when it comes to items confiscated at the border, but this seizure stood out for the everyday pharmaceuticals that composed it, from antibiotics to arthritis, acne, and asthma medications. The 12,428 tablets, pills, vials and other items the 39-year-old suspect carried included amoxicillin, tetracycline, and diclofenac, among others.

Liliana Zamora, Assistant Prosecutor for Liberia, told The Tico Times that this kind of contraband is common, especially coming from Nicaragua. Zamora said that the drugs would be destroyed because there is no paperwork to guarantee the safety of the drugs and whether or not they have psychotropic properties.

The Tico Times requested comment from the Public Health Ministry but did not receive a response by press time.

In June 2014, the daily La Nación reported that Mariguanol, likely smuggled into the country by other small-time smugglers like the suspect in this case, was being sold on the streets of San José. In August 2014, lawmaker Marvin Atencio of the governing Citizen Action Party (PAC) presented a bill that would legalize marijuana-based medications. The Legislative Assembly has yet to take up the bill.

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