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Costa Rican footballer arrested after gang tried smuggle cocaine in fruit to Donegal

"The shipment was detected by the Drug Control Police, who found eight black bags containing the drugs"

A total of 13 people were detained

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

A well-known former soccer player has been nabbed in Costa Rica as a criminal gang attempted to export shipments of cocaine into Donegal disguised as banana pulp.

Law authorities in the South American country detained Andy Furtado Dixon (40) and 12 others who they believe are members of two different criminal gangs involved in two international drug trafficking operations.

Dixon, who has worked at the port terminal in Limon for at least six years, was part of a group of six who were detained on Monday, August 31, as they attempted to export cocaine hydrochloride from Costa Rica to Ireland.

Ex-International Furtado Dixon has nine international caps for Costa Rica and made his debut in a February 2007 friendly match against Trinidad and Tobago.

“They would have orchestrated an operation in March to introduce 3,466 kilograms of the chemical to the port terminal in a container that carried banana pulp and was going to be exported to Donegal, in Europe” local media reports.

However, it adds: “Such shipment was detected by the Drug Control Police.”

Photograph by Susan Jane White

The Limón Deputy Prosecutor's Office believes the substances were introduced into containers processed via APM Terminals, “taking advantage of the fact that some of the suspects work in the port terminal and could thus evade controls”.

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

According to the investigators, these suspects collaborated in an operation carried out between March 18 and 21 when 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.

The drugs was valued at ¢7.445 million (almost €10,000).

"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.

The other seven detainees, who “made up another structure apparently dedicated to the same activity”, consist of workers at the port terminal as well as others employed as private security workers.

This group is blamed for trying to move 640 kilos of cocaine hydrochloride, on April 26, which was intercepted. However, they managed to send 999 kilograms of the drug to Belgium, where it was detected by authorities there on May 10.

The Drug Control Police (PCD) carried out 15 raids on Tuesday to dismantle both criminal groups that are linked to a total shipment of almost five tons of cocaine to Europe.

During the raids, about ₡4,000,000 (€5,435) was seized from the first group and ₡580,000 (€788) from the second, as well as a vehicle and cell phones.

The operations form part of police actions in the port area where other seizures have been made previously, especially in 2020, the year in which a record amount of cocaine was seized in the country.

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 behavior" of its officials.

“As a responsible company, we have zero tolerance for reports of criminal behavior, 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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