Costa Rican authorities seized eight tons of cyanide in the north of the country, near the border with Nicaragua, in a “historic” seizure, according to the Ministry of Public Security on Friday.
“It would be the largest seizure of this chemical made in the northern border and possibly in the history of the country”, commonly used to process illegally mined gold in that area of Costa Rica, the authorities said in a statement.
The seizure occurred early Thursday morning during a police patrol, when a truck was intercepted near the town of El Salto, about 200 km northwest of San José.
Inside the vehicle, the police found dozens of drums loaded with cyanide.
Both the driver of the truck and his companion were arrested, informed Eric Lacayo, director of the Border Police Force.
He indicated that the mere transportation of this material in such conditions “represents a great risk for the population” due to the high toxicity of the product.
Cyanide is a poisonous chemical used to make products such as paper, fabrics and plastics, and is used as a pesticide. Exposure to cyanide can cause serious health consequences and even death, according to scientific and medical sources.
Its transport, storage and handling is strictly regulated in Costa Rica.
However, the northern zone is invaded by artisanal miners who have dedicated themselves to extracting gold using these chemicals, which, according to environmental organizations, have caused serious damage to the soil and rivers in the area.
Most of the illegal gold mining in Costa Rica takes place in the northern area of Crucitas, near the border with Nicaragua, where the Canadian mining company Infinito Gold intended to develop a gold mining project, but was blocked by the courts due to the environmental impact it would cause.
The previous considerable seizure of cyanide was in 2019, in the same area, where almost two tons of the product were seized.