U.S. ship gets permission to dock even as it turns over prisoners

Lawmakers finally acted Monday and gave permission to the “USS Rentz” to dock in a Costa Rica port. But the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas already was at sea outside Costa Rica’s territorial limits offloading confiscated drugs and prisoners.

The U.S. warship was waiting in the Pacific for more than a week for permission to enter a Costa Rican port. The Constitution says that legislators must approve the docking of foreign warships.

The security ministry said that a request for permission for U.S. boats had been submitted to the lawmakers June 7. The U.S. Embassy said that the “Rentz” was on that list.

The permission approved by lawmakers with 35 votes runs from July 1 until Dec. 31.

The prisoners are the crew of the  “Capitán Erson” that was captured 10 days ago. Three of the four crew members are Costa Rican.

Under an agreement with Costa Rica, U.S. crews are obligated to turn over any Costa Ricans caught at sea with drug cargo.

This was the second time that the same boat was captured at sea with a drug cargo. There was a similar capture in November.

This time the boat sank. Reports said that the boat either collided with the “Rentz” during rough weather or it was sunk because it was not seaworthy.

Some readers have inquired why the Costa Rican coast guard just did not take the prisoners and the drugs off the boat shortly after the capture. A U.S. Embassy spokesperson said last week that to do so would be complicated because judges and other Costa Rican officials would have to inspect the evidence.

Eventually this is what had to be done. Based on photographs of the exchange, the sea appeared to have been calm Monday.

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