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Costa Rica Takedown of Interpol’s Most Wanted

A man originally from Hong Kong wanted by Interpol for arms and explosives trafficking in Panama was detained this Thursday in Costa Rica, the Ministry of Public Security (Interior) reported.

The 48-year-old man, who was naturalized as Panamanian, faces a 17-year prison sentence in Panama after being convicted along with nine other people as part of a court case.

The other people involved in the case were officials from the Institutional Directorate of Public Security Affairs (Diasp) of Panama, which was the entity responsible for enforcing regulations related to firearms, ammunition and related materials.

The detainee, surnamed Tong, according to the Costa Rican authorities, was randomly apprehended at a roadblock in the tourist province of Guanacaste, about 125 km northwest of San José.

After confirming he was wanted by Interpol, he was detained and will be deported to Panama in the coming days, the Public Ministry confirmed, without clarifying how long he had been on the run. In addition, Tong did not have a migration registry for entry into Costa Rica.

In Panama, the investigation against him determined that he received preferential treatment from Diasp officials to process permits and firearms ownership without minimum requirements. In his home in Panama, more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition were found.

Tong would legally purchase weapons and ammunition in the United States and illegally introduce them into Panama, taking advantage of the preferential treatment provided by Diasp.

The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) had been investigating since 2013 a list of weapons trafficked to Panama by the suspect.

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