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  At the end of the first trial session, Owen-Strauss along with three other suspects admitted their guilt of the charge
and requested a speedy prosecution process. - Judicial Investigation Organization photos -

Published Thursday, January 7, 2021

Two U.S. citizens face trial for allegedly growing
marijuana and marketing weed-based products

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

On Tuesday, the trial in the court of Cartago Province, against two U.S. citizens, a man surnamed Owen-Strauss and a woman surnamed Redondo-Ramos, who has dual citizenship in Cuba and the U.S. Both are suspects of being part of a gang dedicated to growing marijuana and marketing weed-based products.

The trial also includes four Costa Rican men, as allegedly members of the same gang, surnamed Cortés-Amador, Bermúdez-Molina, Bastos-Herrera, and Pizarro-Cartín.

During the hearing, Owen-Strauss was provided the service of a professional translator, since he doesn't speak Spanish. At the end of the first trial session, Owen-Strauss along with three other suspects admitted their guilt of the charge and requested a speedy prosecution process.

However, the other U.S. citizen, Redondo-Ramos made the decision to defend her innocence and continue with the regular litigation process.

It is expected that within the next few weeks the judge will address the final sentence for Owen-Strauss and the other men who accept their guilt.

The case of Owen-Strauss and Redondo-Ramos started on January 31, 2019, when agents of the Judicial Investigation Organization in coordination with the agents of the Prosecutor's office Against Drug Trafficking, detained them at their home.

One of the Costa Rican detainees, Cortés-Amador, is the son of Giselle Amador, former Minister of Health.

Information provided by the Presidential House indicates that President Alvarado was informed in 2018 about the investigation that was starting and that it involved the former minister's son.

The investigation was apparently the trigger for the President to ask Amador to resign in November 2018. On her resignation, the minister had said that she was leaving her key government post due to health reasons.

It is important to clarify that the Presidential House confirms that the sensitive information given to the president on this case was never shared with the former Minister Amador because the case was in its initial stage and all information in that phase is confidential.

The president named Daniel Salas to replace Amador. Salas is the current Minister of Health.

Related to the U.S. citizens case, Judicial Investigation Organization's agents report that the investigation began in April 2018, when the police received confidential information about the suspects who were renting houses to develop a marijuana lab, known as hydroponic marijuana.

Based on that complaint, the agents conducted the investigations that resulted in multiple, including a warehouse in La Union District and five houses located in the provinces of Cartago, Heredia and San José.

In addition to detaining the suspects, the agents seized several marijuana plants, documents, cash among other evidence for the case.

"It is believed that they extracted the oil and wax from the plants, as those products have a higher concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis) compared to chopped marijuana, then, apparently, they sold the derivatives in ampoules or cartridges, with prices ranging between ₵60,000 colones ($98.52) and ₵100,000 colones ($164)," the prosecutor said in its statement.

The judicial agents call on the population to report any suspicion of drug production or sales to the confidential line 800-8000-645, where there are bilingual agents who can answer calls in English or Spanish.

What have you heard about the marijuana products sale in your community? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to

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