San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Immigration Workers Accused Of Aiding Alleged Criminals

Two employees of the General Immigration Administration are being held in preventive detention for three months for allegedly accepting payments of up to $800 for helping people charged with crimes to leave the country.

The employees allegedly entered the Immigration computer system and lifted suspects’ restraints on leaving the country, allowing them to escape without obstacles.

Once out of the country, the employees returned the restraints to their records, the daily La Nación reported.

The two workers also allegedly registered fake Immigration movements to make it appear that people who have been  accused of crimes were out of the country when the crimes occurred. A person could have been freed from blame by showing only certification that they were out of the country, Immigration vice director Roxana Quesada told the daily.

The suspects are a man by the last name of Piedra, who was in charge of the Immigration computer system and his secretary, whose last name is González. They were detained by the fraud unit of the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) Feb. 23.

They face charges of computer sabotage and alteration of data, punishable by up to four years in prison, according to the Judicial Branch press office.

Their operation was revealed after an Immigration user last year filed a compliant. Immigration authorities then notified the OIJ.

The suspects worked in the department of information technology management for more than 10 years. Neither was allowed to enter the Immigration movement registry.

They allegedly used a password assigned to a former employee. A hidden camera revealed that on Feb. 9 and 10, Piedra allegedly made five changes, including some in favor of people facing trials.

An investigation by La Nación revealed that although Piedra’s salary was less than ¢500,000 ($1,000), he owned various properties and at least three cars.


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