Buried drugs might signal new smuggler strategy

Anti-drug police believe that smugglers are using the coastal waters to move cocaine in order to avoid U.S. patrols at sea.

That idea found reinforcement over the weekend when a telephone tip led to the discovery of more than a ton of cocaine buried in the sand at Playa Marisol in Parrita on the central Pacific coast.

Police had been tipped of a possible landing and transfer of drugs, but they encountered no one when they found the drugs partly buried in bags. The Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas and the security ministry’s aircraft were used in an attempt to locate whoever left the illegal cargo near the beach. Later ministry aircraft moved the cocaine from the coast to Juan SantamarĂ­a airport.

By moving the drugs up the coast, smugglers gain cover from the normal sea traffic of small boats and fishermen. The eventual destination is a place where the drugs can be loaded into vehicles for further travel north. That location may be as far away as a Mexican beach.

Coastal residents have expressed concern about these activities because smugglers do not want observers. The find Friday was in an inlet, and those operating whatever boat brought the drugs had an intimate knowledge of the area.

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