U.S. comes up with new Navy boat that needs OK to dock

The U.S. Navy appears to be using another boat to bring Costa Rican drug smuggling suspects ashore.

The Asamblea Legislativa eventually gave approval for the USS Boone to dock in Puntarenas. But now the U.S. Embassy said that the USS Rentz will bring the five suspects ashore along with a sixth suspect who is Nicaraguan. The men were on a Costa Rican-flagged fishing boat that was captured on the high seas as it appeared to be making a drug run from the Galapagos Islands.

Navy crewmen found 1,300 kilos of cocaine aboard the boat, the “María Canela.” That was Aug. 28.

The embassy said that the suspects would be put ashore when the legislature gives permission for the Rentz to dock. Such approval for foreign warships is required by the Costa Rican Constitution.

The embassy said that the Rentz is on a list of ships that the United States would like to see given blanket approval to dock whenever necessary. The legislature has resisted doing
that, although approvals in the past were routine.

The embassy is seeking approval for 12 navy vessels over a period of six months.

The embassy has been using the five Costa Ricans as a public relations technique to win approval from the legislature. To some extent this has backfired because several lawmakers have spoken out during legislative sessions about what they said they saw as manipulation of the news media.

Several said that because the ship was carrying a Costa Rican flag, all the suspects should be brought ashore here along with all the cocaine. The United States will provide a sample of the cocaine, about 10 kilos, sufficient for presentation in a court. There also were Colombians on the boat.

How the Rentz enters into the situation is not clear. The Boone was expected to arrive last weekend. Presumably the six suspects were transferred to the Rentz also with a sample of the cocaine. They could easily have been transferred to a Costa Rican Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas boat.

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