Secret base camp in north draws a visit from security minister

Law enforcement officers still are uncertain why heavily armed men set up a camp in northern Costa Rica.  But the situation is serious enough to warrant a visit by the security minister.

The minister, Mario Zamora, visited the heavily wooded location Friday in the company of members of the Policía de Fronteras. Among other items confiscated were 5,000 liters of gasoline in steel drums. That’s about 1,320 gallons, enough for repeated flights by a helicopter.  There was a rough landing pad at the site, too.

Members of the tax police also have expressed interest in the case with the thought that this may have been a smuggling operation bringing untaxed goods into the country.

Frontier police were tipped off by residents because some of the occupants of the mountain camp were believed to have made trips to town for supplies. They must have been there some time because they had constructed two rude houses. Police also confiscated a truck and a new quadracycle.

The occupants cut a road into the site, too.

This is the place where police found 20 rifles, AK-47s and M-16s. They also found an RPG-7 grenade device. Experts had to be called in to check for mines and to disarm another rocket device.

Foreign banknotes appear to underline the international nature of the camp. Police found Mexican and Guatemala bills.

Police said they think that five men lived at the site, but they fled into the mountains and are expected to be across the border in Nicaragua now.

Zamora said that the weapons discovery was the most important in 15 years. He said earlier that the firearms were new and not leftovers from the Nicaraguan civil war.  The location is in the hills near Limonal de Cutris, which is in far northern Alajuela province.

Zamora said he was stationing a permanent force in the area to keep the sector completely under government control.

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