San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Police Bust Gang That Targeted Tourists

Police have arrested seven alleged members of two gangs targeting tourists – but, as is usually the case, the suspects are already back on the streets.

Tourism Police Chief Katia Chavarría said the gangs – one Colombian and one Peruvian – organized “pinchonazo” robberies and car thefts of foreigners.

Pinchonazo consists of puncturing a car’s tires while it is parked, waiting for the driver, following the car until it is pulled over and then robbing the occupants.

Police arrested one Tico with the last name Jiménez, two Colombians with the last names Angulo and Pinzón, and four Peruvians with the last names Bazán, Navarro, Sotero and Angulo.

But a judge later released the alleged perpetrators pending formal charges, an act which can take months, Chavarría said. The practice of releasing suspects soon after they are arrested is one of the factors contributing to an alarming increase in crime in Costa Rica, according to officials and activists who are trying to  change the laws to keep major crime suspects locked up until trial.

The tourism police chief said the operation was conducted after the named individuals showed a propensity for appearing in criminal complaints filed at the prosecutor’s office.

She also said some of the arrested included those who had been awarded refugee status by the Costa Rican government.


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