Drama at sea results in seizure of marijuana from Jamaica

The confiscated fastboat 'Anita' is tied up alongside a Costa Rican patrol boat after a chase on the high seas and a gun battle just off the Limón beaches. Photo: Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública/Guillermo Solano

Costa Rica has become a destination for at least Jamaican marijuana. That became clear over the weekend when two local boats were intercepted off the Caribbean coast in actions punctuated by gunfire. The boats carried marijuana imported from Jamaica, police said.

The crew of a U.S. Coast Guard aircraft using special radar spotted a suspicious boat on the high seas 60 miles off the Limón coast. Two boats of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas began to intercept the craft. About eight miles off the coast they encountered three fastboats.

As Costa Rican coast guard vessels approached, those on the suspicious craft opened fire, said the security ministry, and then they began to flee.

The crews of two boats, later determined to be Costa Rican, fled toward shore, and those on board could be seen dumping packages into the ocean. The third boat vanished but later was reported detained in Panamå.

Mario Zamora, the security minister, inspects some of the confiscated marijuana. Photo: Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública/Guillermo Solano

About 5 a.m. some three miles from Limón a Costa Rican patrol craft was able to intercept one of the boats. The boat carried the name “Leant Mark” and had a single 150-horsepower outboard. Held were a 30-year-old Nicaraguan, identified by the last names of Zamora Valerio, a 28-year-old Costa Rican, identified by the last names of Núñez Chavarría and a Jamaican with the last name of Newbold, security officials reported.

About 6 a.m. the second Costa Rican patrol boat engaged the second boat near the Hospital de Limón. As a result of the firefight, one of the occupants of the fleeing boat suffered a bullet wound, officials said. This craft later was identified as the “Anita,” a 35-foot boat with a single 150-horsepower motor. Three persons were detained when the craft reached the beach at Cieneguita Detained were three persons with the last names and ages of Hamm Segura, 22, Samuels Swarton, 25, and Dosman Chaves, 36.

The crews of Costa Rican patrol boats were able to recover some 60 sacks containing 1,122 kilograms of marijuana. Officials said this was apparently of Jamaican origin and destine for the local market here.The marijuana was of a potent type officials call high red.

Costa Rica is usually considered a transit country for cocaine, heroin and marijuana headed north. Some of these substances enter the national market because drugs are used for payment for fuel and other services. Police officials are confident that the marijuana seized Saturday was destined for end users in Costa Rica.

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