Guardacostas increasing its presence on both coasts

The Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas is beefing up its presence in the Pacific and in northeastern Costa Rica.

The agency will have a new station in Tortuguero in the province of Limón and a stronger presence in Murciélago in La Cruz in the north Pacific. The United States is investing $1.25 million for infrastructure at the Flamingo station, said the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

Uncle Sam’s interest is generated by the war on drugs. The coast guard celebrated 12 years of existence last week. Previously it was called the Servicio de Vigilancia Marítima.

The name change took place in 2000, but it was not until 2005 that the coast guard intercepted its first load of cocaine, officials noted. Since then members of the agency have captured 30 tons, they said.

The service also plans to obtain two more fast patrol boats to join the current fleet of six. These boats are a match for the crafts used by drug smugglers.

Officials said that the law creating the Guardacostas was more than just a name change because it gave more flexibility for training and increased professionalism. The service added 29 new members last week.

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