Year-long investigation cracks extensive marijuana operation

Anti-drug agents check out the technicalities of the operation where high-grade marijuana was raised. Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública/Paul Gamboa

Anti-drug police moved in on an extensive marijuana-growing operation Thursday morning and detained 15 persons.

The case had been under investigation for a year, said the Policía de Control de Drogas. Last May police received a tip that a bunker had been constructed at a home in Residencial El Bosque, in La Garita de Alajuela.

What police found Thursday was a sophisticated system in which high-grade marijuana was raised in a controlled atmosphere. Agents said that hydroponics was used and that carbon dioxide was pumped into the growing areas to achieve an increase in production of up to 40 percent.

These special growing areas were indoors in Montecillos de Alajuela. Raids also took place in Barva de Heredia, Alajuela, Pital de San Carlos and Escazú. In all, there were three.

The marijuana was said to be a species that has been grown to
be extra powerful. This type is called crippy or cripi after the mythical mineral kryptonite that caused Superman to lose his strength. The marijuana is said to have sold for 4,000 colons or $8 per cigarette.

The operation appears to have been a successful one because agents were able to locate 21 corporations into which the members of the organization placed properties and other goods. The group owned two bars, El Bucanero and La Plaza, both in La Garita. From a police description of the arrests, it appeared that these bars also were sales locations as well as informal headquarters.

One man, identified by the last names of Pulido Reyes had been arrested in Miami in 2007. He was the subject of a 2008 arrest warrant issued in 2008 for marijuana trafficking, said agents. He also faces a murder charge in Alajuela, they said.

Police confiscated 33 million colons, about $66,000, $16,000 in cash, 10 vehicles and even 11 horses. Agents also found firearms.

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