Marijuana smuggling case involves law, customs officers

Investigators have detained suspected drug traffickers in a marijuana smuggling ring and government employees supposedly acting as co-conspirators. The Judicial Investigating Organization detained the suspects during raids Tuesday.

Judicial police have been working to dismantle this illicit system of importation that brought “High Red” marijuana from Jamaica to Heredia, from where it was later distributed to other parts of the country, officials said.

The investigation began in summer of 2010 when police in Heredia apprehended two suspects and 70 kilograms of marijuana, they said. The investigation was brought to a head in August when the supposed leader was killed as a result of an internal gang dispute.

Six people were arrested in total. The list of detainees included a pilot with the Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea of the security ministry, a customs agent stationed in Límón, an official of the Grupo de Apoyo Operacional in Heredia and a lawyer. Other suspects were detained as well.

According to agents, the pilot met with the band’s leaders and gave advice about importing the drugs while the customs agents allowed the marijuana to reach San José. The officer with the Grupo de Apoyo Operacional in Heredia along with the lawyer helped with legal processes and documentation such as making electronic money transfers sent to Jamaica in exchange for the drugs, said agents.

Police also confiscated several vehicles supposedly used to transport the drugs, cell phones, marijuana, automatic rifles and pistols in the raids Tuesday. The men suspected of killing the leader in August still remain at large, according to investigators. He was identified as Michael Araya Castillo.

Agents said there also were allegations of importing weapons from Nicaragua for resale. Divers located some weapons underwater in an inlet in Cieneguita, Limón. Tuesday. This is near the area that was basically off-limits to police patrols because of the presence of heavily armed individuals who kept officers and the public in general away. They used to fire warning shots.

A Limón businessman lost a boat to crooks who stripped the vessel and took the boat and parts to areas well within the domain controlled by drug traffickers.

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