Costa Rica’s Chief Prosecutor warned of an increase in organized crime, hit men and contracted murders over the past year in the first public presentation of the annual report from the Prosecutor’s Office Sept. 22.
Chief Prosecutor Francisco Dall’Anese said the actions of these criminal groups put not only Costa Rican citizens at risk, but also the judicial process.
“Sicariato (crime-for-hire) has been increasing in Costa Rica and is not limited to killing people, but also inflicting injuries, damaging property and making threats – all in exchange for money,”Dall’Anese told a full auditorium in the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) building in downtown San José.
The criminal groups’ influence has also seeped into some trials in what Dall’Anese said is “a new form of victimization” where witnesses are threatened and intimidated, causing them to change their testimony.
He added that the rise in sicariato is “clear evidence of the criminal organizations that contract them.” The only way to disband these groups, he said, is by investigating not only the circumstances and culprits of crimes such as murder, but also the deeper motives.
The discoveries of members of the Colombian guerrilla army Revolutionary Armed Force of Colombia (FARC) and the former guerrilla movement M-19 in Costa Rica “make us realize the weakness of our Immigration system,” Dall’Anese said. The Chief Prosecutor was referring to the recent arrest in Costa Rica of Héctor Orlando Martínez, an alleged FARC member wanted for atrocities in Colombia and accused of drug and arms trafficking in Costa Rica (TT, Aug. 11), and the detention of Libardo Parra, a former guerrilla with the disbanded M-19 accused of money laundering here and wanted in Colombia to serve a 24-year sentence for kidnapping, according to the daily La Nación.
Dall’Anese thanked Colombian officials during his speech for their recent collaboration with Costa Rican authorities in investigating the presence of these groups in Costa Rica and checking the backgrounds of 18,000 Colombians with residency and refugee status here (TT, Sept. 15).
The investigation into the backgrounds of 10,000 Colombian refugees in Costa Rica, however, has been criticized as a violation of the refugees’ rights (see separate article).
In Costa Rica, authorities discovered “at least two” organizations dedicated to the illegal trafficking of children in Costa Rica, one Costa Rican and the other Ecuadoran, Dall’Anese continued.However, authorities were able to prosecute only the Ecuadorans.
The case is being appealed, he said. Dall’Anese praised the efforts of the Prosecutor’s Office, in coordination with the OIJ, against Chinese criminal groups dedicated to kidnapping “Costa Rican citizens of Chinese origin.” Because of these efforts, the groups “have abandoned their activities,” he said.
At the same event, former Adjunct Chief Prosecutor Jorge Seguro was recognized for outstanding service.