15 Manuel Antonio vendors shut down in sweep

A multi-agency task force targeted vendors of tourist items at Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio and closed 15 stalls that now will be destroyed.

Law enforcement officials said that they were trying to solve a problem that has pestered local business operators for years. The vendors and their temporary stalls were illegal, said officers.

The task force included inspectors from the Ministerio de Salud as well as officers from the  Fuerza Pública, the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas, Policía Turística and the Unidad Canina. They were joined Friday morning by workers from the Municipalidad de Aguirre and agents from the Judicial Investigating Organization. Also represented was the Policía del Tránsito.

The businesses that were closed lacks sanitary permits from the health ministry, officers said. For all the police presence, arrests were minimal. One motorist faced a charge of reckless driving.

Two women who gave police a hard time were detained and put before the flagrancy tribunal in Puntarenas. They received fines and an order to do community service.

Officers said they found a small amounts of marijuana, crack and cocaine. But  drugs were not the goal of the sweep, The plan was to take back public spaces that have been occupied for years by vendors, said officers.

The sweep, of course, comes just a few months before high tourism season.

Four persons were detained after similar sweep of parks, playgrounds and other areas in San José province. Police officers there said they were targeting youngsters who were in the drug trade.

The public places that received police attention were in the Hatillos, San Sebastián, Alajuelita, Tibás, Aserrí, Montes de Oca, Zapote, Goicoechea and Moravia, police said.

Officers said they confiscated 486 crack rocks, marijuana and cocaine. Those who possessed drugs were detained. That happened in Aserrí and Alajuelita. This series of sweeps took place all last week.

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