Cocaine seizures trigger 15 raids in country and 10 arrests

Anti-drug police check suspected cocaine April 29 in San José and May 1 in Curridabat. Photo: Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública/Paul Gamboa

Anti-drug agents Thursday conducted 15 raids as they followed up on discoveries of cocaine shipments discovered last April 29 and June 1.

Among those detained was Alexander Leudo Nieves, a Colombian who is wanted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administrations for alleged cocaine smuggling and sale in the state of Washington.

Alexander Leudo Nieves

The organization was involved in shipping by land, sea and air cocaine from Panamá to México where it would be turned over to representatives of Los Zeta for shipment into the United States. said agents.

Leudo is connected to the Buenaventura, Colombia, cartel, and agents allege that he and two countrymen were in charge of obtaining the cocaine, sometimes robbing it from rival gangs. The Costa Ricans, headed by a man with the last names of Rodríguez Salas, and his wife with the last names of Bonilla Esquivel, had the responsibility of transporting the illegal merchandise, said agents.

Raids were conducted in Miramar, Barranca, Ciudad Neily, Lomas de Ayarco, San Pedro de Montes de Oca, Ciudad Colón, Uruca, San Antonio de Belén, Rohrmoser, Moravia. Zapote, Santo Domingo and San Miguel de Santo Domingo de Heredia. There also was a raid at a repair shop in San Joaquín de Flores and at a storage location on Calle 5 in southern San José.

One of those detained is a lawyer with the last names of Briceño Obando. Agents claim he was in charge of laundering the money generated by the operation.

Leudo is believed to have been known to law enforcement here. A man with that name figured in a Sala IV habeas corpus case a year ago along with other men. They were being held in Liberia. The Drug Enforcement Administration said earlier that he was living in Costa Rica.

One man, one of two brothers with the last name of Rojas Prendas, was detained April 29 when he was driving a vehicle in downtown San José near the headquarters of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. Fuerza Pública officers said they found 40 kilos of cocaine hidden in the truck.

Police said at the time that he was acting suspiciously. The Policía de Control de Drogas confirmed the presence of cocaine, they said.

Another man who figures in the investigation has the last names of López Mendoza. He was believed to have been detained May 1 in Curridabat when police stopped a truck that had 56 kilos of cocaine hidden under the truck bed.

Two other Colombians detained Thursday were identified by the last names of Amador Montenegro and Viafara Mina.

Agents said they confiscated $286,000 when they detained Leudo. Prosecutors said there would be more arrests.

At least three groups are involved in the shipment of major amounts of cocaine across Costa Rica. While they were investigating this case, agents confiscated cocaine from unrelated groups. The drug organizations sometimes let police know about the activities of their competitors.

Monday the Poder Judicial and the Judicial Investigating Organization will inaugurate a new incinerator for the purposes of burning up illegal drugs. The location is at the judicial complex in San Joaquín de Flores, Heredia.

The incinerator can destroy between 300 and 400 kilos of drugs per hour, said the Poder Judicial. The Holcim firm helped law officers obtain the English-built device, which is worth $70,000, said the Poder Judicial.

In the past some of the drugs were destroyed in an incinerator operated by Holcim. In one case some workers at an incinerator found the temptation too great and managed to save some of the drug for themselves. They have been arrested.

The Poder Judicial said that the new system will destroy drugs under strict control and supervision.

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