New threat – criminals posing as cops

June 27, 2008
The latest scam reveals criminals are becoming more sophisticated in Costa Rica.
 
Three men arrested June 22 in Ciudad Neily in Puntarenas near the Panama border had an assortment of police gear and illegal firearms – camouflage clothing with the National Police logo, a bulletproof jacket, sirens, security cones, four communication radios, three pistols and a 12-gauge shotgun.
 
Local officials say they were planning to set up an illegal checkpoint to assault and rob people.
 
However, prosecutors already released two of the men – Núñez and Ulloa – and aren’t pursuing charges against them, Ciudad Neily Police Capt. Gonzalo Godoy said. A third – Castro – is still in custody after officials realized he is wanted for aggravated robbery.
 
“For me, it’s a crime what they did, having the uniforms and the illegal firearms,” Godoy said. “The problem is this country is such a guarantor of rights and the laws are so obsolete.”
 
As of yesterday, the prosecutor’s office gave no explanation for not pursuing charges against two of the men. Godoy said part of the problem is the men were arrested before they committed assaults or robberies. But he said he thought the crimes of illegal firearms possession warrant prosecution.
 
The three men were caught at a real police checkpoint at Kilometer 53 of the road from Ciudad Neily to Paso Canoas.
 
The captain said it was the first time he’d seen or heard of criminals using police equipment as part of their schemes.
 
“You can get anything you want in San José, and they sell (that equipment) all over the place,” he said.
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