Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Costa Rica foils plot to kill top officials

Photo by La Nacion newspaperGovernment deports suspects to Colombia

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) - Police have detained and deported five Colombians accused of planning to kill top Costa Rican officials, the country's security minister told local media.

Security Minister Fernando Berrocal said the suspects were hired by the Norte del Valle cartel in Colombia to kill the officials in retaliation for the Costa Rica's seizure of about 40 tons of cocaine over the past year, in comments published Sunday in the Costa Rican newspaper La Nacion.

Berrocal and other officials familiar with the alleged plot could not be immediately be reached.

"There was a group of hit men in Costa Rica with the aim of trying to kill several high-level officials in this administration," Berrocal told La Nacion.

Berrocal did not say which officials were targeted in the alleged plot, but the newspaper La Nacion reported that the targets included Berrocal and Rodrigo Arias, the brother of President Oscar Arias who serves as his representative in the Cabinet.

Mario Zamora, director of the country's immigration service, told La Nacion the men were much more violent than the criminal suspects Costa Rica is accustomed to, and that played a role in the decision to deport them to Colombia rather than put them on trial here.

Zamora and the country's immigration service did not answer phone calls seeking comment.

The men arrived in Costa Rica illegally 10 days ago, were detained on Thursday and Friday and were deported to Colombia on Saturday.

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