Pulped up | 

Former soccer star released from custody in Costa Rica after Donegal cocaine smuggling ring is busted

The ex-International has nine international caps for Costa Rica and made his debut in a February 2007 friendly match against Trinidad and Tobago
Part of the shipment discovered in black bags

Part of the shipment discovered in black bags

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

The well-known former soccer player Andy Furtado has been released from custody in Costa Rica following his arrest last week for his suspected role in an attempt to export shipments of cocaine to Donegal disguised as banana pulp.

The ex-International who has nine international caps for Costa Rica and made his debut in a February 2007 friendly match against Trinidad and Tobago, was detained at the port terminal in Limon where he had worked for at least six years.

He was part of a group of six who were stopped on Monday, August 31, as they attempted to export cocaine hydrochloride from Costa Rica to Ireland.

According to the investigation, all those defendants collaborated in an operation carried out between March 18 and 21.

On those dates they managed to introduce 3,466 kilograms of cocaine to the port terminal, which were camouflaged in a container that carried banana pulp and was to be exported to Donegal, in Ireland.

However, “despite the group's alleged illegal manoeuvres, the shipment was detected by the Drug Control Police, who found eight black bags containing the drugs," the Public Ministry said.

In a hearing “of precautionary measures”, the Criminal Court in Limón rejected a “preventive detention” proposed by the deputy prosecutor's against the accused.

According to local media, “other alternatives” were issued including a stipulation that the accused must sign every 15 days, maintain a fixed address and “not disturb or intimidate witnesses in the case”.

According to prosecutors office, the six suspects must not returning to work at APM Terminals for six months.

The public prosecutors office confirmed that it has filed an appeal.

They are being investigated under file 21-000948-0472-PE, since they allegedly organized to "export large quantities of cocaine hydrochloride from Costa Rica to Ireland," said the Limón Deputy Prosecutor's Office, through a statement to the press.

Meanwhile, seven members of a second gang suspected of trafficking cocaine in containers out of the same port into Europe have been released by authorities in Costa Rica.

They were arrested by the Drug Control Police on August 31 for allegedly taking advantage of their jobs inside a terminal at the port of Limon to “contaminate containers with drugs”.

Those seven suspects, including two women, have been linked to the shipment of 999 kilograms of cocaine to Belgium. This drug was discovered on May 10 last when it entered that country.

They are also linked to the seizure of 640 kilos of cocaine on April 26 at the port terminal where the illegal cargo was located and inside a container.

A judge has said they must sign on every 15 days, and must not leave the country. Also, they have been banned from “disturbing or threatening the manager of APM Terminals” and keeping their address updated.

The press office for the port terminal, which is the main export point for Costa Rican exports, has promised to work hand in hand with the authorities as they criticised any "criminal behaviour" of its officials.

“As a responsible company, we have zero tolerance for reports of criminal behaviour, so we will continue to support investigations by the authorities,” they have been quoted as saying.

“Our goal is to foster a culture among our employees that is based on safe operations, with righteousness and always with a strong commitment to doing the right thing."

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