Crackdown on Police Taking Bribes from Drug Users

September 30, 2005

The Tico Times.Then, he said, police give the kids a reward for reporting the tourists.He has heard of it going on in Puerto Viejo, a popular tourist surf town on the Caribbean coast. The problem is, he said, “it’s very easy to make cash, good or bad.”This week he spoke with Public Security Minister Rogelio Ramos, who agreed to investigate the allegations and punish the officers involved.Costa Rican drug law does not impose fines for possession of any amount of drugs.“The punishment is jail time and seizure of goods. There are no fines in our system,” drug trafficking and organized crime legal expert Paul Chávez told The Tico Times. The amount of drugs a person has does not influence the penalty. If a court decides a person with drugs was trying to traffic or sell them, judges impose an eight- to 15- year sentence, regardless of the amount of drugs.However, since it is so difficult to prove small amounts of drugs are not for personal use, people arrested with a joint or two will most likely be in and out of the police station within hours, Chávez said.“Any judge would say having one cigarette is not punishable,” he said.

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