By Dialogo August 26, 2013 SAN JOSÉ — Costa Rica’s legislature has voted to allow the guided-missile frigate USS Rentz to dock in Costa Rican waters. The U.S. Navy vessel promptly turned over three prisoners — two Costa Ricans and one Nicaraguan — to Costa Rican authorities along with nearly a ton of cocaine worth $78 million seized from their ship, the Capitán Erson. The Aug. 11 seizure occurred in international waters, 216 nautical miles off Costa Rica’s Cocos Island. It came less than a week after the Rentz’s deployment. The Capitán Erson later sunk during a storm, with the three prisoners and the contraband safely aboard the gunship. “We are very fortunate to have the USS Rentz and embarked Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment on patrol conducting counter-transnational organized crime operations,” 4th Fleet Rear Adm. Sinclair Harris said. “This major seizure in the first week the ship is on station is a clear indicator that illicit activities are taking place and must be addressed.” The USS Rentz was deployed along with other U.S. Coast Guard and Navy ships as part of Operation Martillo. The counternarcotics program is a coordinated aerial and maritime effort among U.S., European and Latin American forces to monitor busy drug trafficking routes throughout the region. USS Rentz is first foreign artillery ship to dock in Costa Rica Since its creation in January 2012, Operation Martillo — which covers 42 million square miles of ocean — has led to the seizure of 318,133 pounds of cocaine and 25,052 pounds of marijuana. In early August, Operation Martillo resulted in several other major drug busts, including the seizure of more than 1,500 pounds of cocaine valued at $24 million. That operation was a joint effort between the British Royal Navy and U.S. law enforcement. Since June, the Costa Rican government has allowed 41 U.S. patrol ships to dock in Costa Rican waters. Costa Rica disbanded its military in 1948, and the docking of the USS Rentz marks the first time an artillery ship has been permitted to put ashore anywhere in the country. Officials say the approval marks a shift in the Costa Rican government toward a firmer stance against drug trafficking, and re-affirms the country’s previous agreements regarding joint patrols. “In reality this is a global problem. The drugs that come through our coasts go on to cause problems in other countries,” Costa Rica’s minister of public security, Mario Zamora, said in a press conference. “We have to respect the fact that this is not just our problem.” Homicides up 22.8 percent in 2013 Though widely considered one of the region’s most stable countries, Costa Rica has seen a sharp increase in drug-related violence in recent years. Homicides during the first half of 2013 increased by 22.8 percent compared to the same period last year, according to Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Police [Organización de Investigación Judicial, or OIJ]. Many of those homicides were drug-related. The jump in violent crime has prompted Costa Rica’s Ministry of Public Security to step up coastal patrols. With only two helicopters, six patrol boats and 11,000 police officers to cover both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, Costa Rica is looking abroad for assistance. In fact, Operation Martillo is just one of several joint patrolling efforts in Central America. In May, Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón visited San José to reaffirm Colombian-Costa Rican patrol efforts. During that visit, he offered help to Costa Rica’s National Guard. The United States and Costa Rica have had joint patrolling agreements since 1999.
BRYAN FAUST/Herald photoAfter another disappointing series against Alaska Anchorage this past weekend, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team (4-4-2, 3-2-1 WCHA) finally has some good news. Barring any setbacks, forward Ross Carlson is expected to rejoin the UW lineup when the Badgers take the ice against Denver at the Kohl Center this weekend.The sputtering Badger offense has been held in check since losing Carlson and Jack Skille in their home opening series against North Dakota.”There’s a good chance Ross will be back in and I think the timing is right for Ross to come in, and what he brings as an athlete is something that we could use right now. It’s like getting a B12 shot,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said in a press conference Monday.Last season, Carlson was sixth on the team with 23 points — and is the Badgers’ active leader with 72 career points — but it is his gritty style of play and veteran leadership that the Badgers have missed most. According Eaves, a healthy dose of Carlson and Skille is just what the doctor ordered.”Ross is one of our seniors, and obviously he has an offensive flair, but you miss that senior leadership on the ice and in the locker room,” Eaves said. “You’re talking about [just] two guys, but the chemistry they provide helps make the soup taste good, if you want to make the analogy, so were happy to have him back in.”Skille, who suffered an elbow injury against North Dakota, is progressing on schedule and Eaves didn’t rule out the possibility of the Madison native making a triumphant return as early as this weekend.”[Skille’s] on the ice with us skating, puck handling, passing, and I think the next step is can he shoot the puck, because that will put torque on his injury. When he passes that test, we will be closer to having him back,” Eaves said. “This weekend is doubtful, but hopefully next weekend we will be looking at probable.”Two of a kindDespite Wisconsin’s offensive inadequacies the last few weeks, the Badger blue-liners have been quite effective, keeping shots and quality scoring chances to a minimum, while surrendering just 2.1 goals per game.”(Davis) Drewiske and (Matt) Olinger have played well as a pair … they have really stabilized that defense,” Eaves said.According to Eaves, the consistency of an unlikely duo has been instrumental in the defensive effort.”Not only have they played to their strengths,” Eaves said, “but actually they have stepped outside and picked up their games a little bit, so when you ask [who is the most consistent] that is what comes to mind.”Revenge factorAfter the Badgers’ 2-1 loss to Alaska Anchorage, Eaves questioned his team’s effort and their ability to play to their own identity. Wisconsin’s inconsistent play has frustrated the coaching staff and they will continue to address the issue.”I came across a good quote that said, ‘infinite patience produces immediate results’ which is a very paradoxical statement,” Eaves said. “But in the world of sport, you have got to have a certain mentality of how you have to play and play to a certain identity if you want to be a championship team.”When the Badgers lost goaltender Brian Elliott to an injury last season, Eaves was forced to give backup goaltender Shane Connelly the first starts of his career against Denver — the defending national champions at the time. The freshman’s inexperience was confirmed — Eaves related the magnitude of Connelly’s situation to being dumped “not into the deep end, but in the Pacific Ocean” — as the Badgers were swept at home, being outscored 5-2 in the two-game set.Despite the circumstances of last year’s matchup, Eaves expects the Pioneers to bring the same intensity and ability that has defined their team for the last few seasons.”It was a long time ago and [last year] doesn’t matter, it’s a new year, it’s Denver,” Eaves said. “They are always a quality opponent, they’ll bring their A-game. They like playing in this building like most teams, so it will be another great challenge for us.”