San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Controversy Erupts Over Broken Police Trucks

The 2001 purchase of 46 Romanian pick-up trucks for police patrol vehicles during the former administration has brought a rain of criticism and questions as it was revealed recently that most of the vehicles did not even work when they arrived in the country, and the rest have since broken down beyond repair. Public Security Minister Fernando Berrocal recently filed a complaint with the Chief Prosecutor’s Office regarding purchase of the patrol vehicles.

In spite of the state of the vehicles, 32 were approved for use only days before the inauguration. On the day of the inauguration of the new vehicles, some had to be towed from the Public Security Ministry garage. Authorities spent ¢8 million ($15,560) on repairs.

The vehicles had a manufacturer’s guarantee for 75,000 kilometers, however not one made it past 3,000 kilometers, the daily said.

The daily La Nación reported this week that for reasons that are unclear, the ministry allowed the warranty to expire, making it impossible to collect the $33,100 guarantee deposited at the now-defunct Elca Bank.

The trucks were sold to the Public Security Ministry for $651,000 by Automotores Europeos de Centroamérica, a business with no experience selling vehicles to the state and that was formed four months before the contract was put up for bid by the government, La Nación reported.

The vice-president of the company who signed the contract for the vehicles, along with the then-Minister of Public Security Rogelio Ramos, is Carlos Alvarado, currently detained and under investigation for fraud, illicit association and fraudulent administration in connection with an investigation of irregularities in banking practices by Elca Bank.

The Public Security Ministry filed a civil suit against the company during the former administration under Ramos, however an official from the Government Attorney’s Office reportedly told Ramos that recovering the money would be nearly impossible because the defendants did not have assets that could pay off the damages.


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