Hydroponics labs called new twist here for pot

Interior of the hydroponics operation. Judicial Investigating Organization photo

Investigators detained a U.S. citizen from Heredia as the climax of a marijuana-growing investigation.

The Judicial Investigating Organization raided a hydroponics setup in San Antonio de Escazú not far from the local cemetery. They said they found a controlled growing environment complete with air conditioning. They also found a quantity of dried marijuana.

The Ministerio Público identified the U.S. citizen by the last names of Sage Rogers. The agency said he was 40 years old. The Municipality de Escazú, whose police participated in the raid, said his first name was Roger. Also detained was a Nicaraguan man.

The security ministry quickly released a statement saying that more and more hydroponics operations are being put into operation. They said anti-drug agents made arrests this year in three cases: One April 22 in San Vito de Coto Brus and two in Heredia April 27.

Suspect is questioned by a policeman. Municipalidad de Escazú photo

The ministry said that these operations represent a new development in Costa Rica because no such hydroponics operation was discovered in 2010.

Mario Zamora, the security minister, said that marijuana plants raised hydroponically have a stronger effect on drug users.

The effect may be in the selection of plant varieties instead of the way they are raised.

In a hydroponics operation the plants are rooted in some non-organic substance like vermiculite or plastic mesh and fed with water laced with nutrients. Several local stores sell the needed supplies. Because the plants are indoors, the environment can be closely controlled.

The Policía Municipal de Escazú said that the suspect appeared to have been aware of the possibility of a raid and was moving much of his belongings. He was detained en route, they said.

Investigators also searched the suspect’s home in San Pablo de Heredia, they said. A vehicle was confiscated, they added.

The Ministerio Público said that prosecutors will seek six months preventative detention in a court hearing today.

Judicial agents said the arrests were the result of surveillance and following the suspect.

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