In the wake of numerous National Police scandals, the Public Security Ministry announced a 100-day “saturation sweep” to take on crime in northwestern Limón province.
In June, numerous corruption scandals involving National Police were made public. Two of the scandals involved Limón officers, some National Police and Border Police, all allied with drug traffickers. Some cops allegedly participated in torture and murder.
After another drug-trafficking scandal occurred in Heredia, north of San José, in late June, Public Security Minister Janina del Vecchio announced she was abolishing the Border Police. Soon after, she announced the Limón saturation sweep, which is focusing on the cities of Limón, as well as four Caribbean slope and coastal towns: Cahuita, Guápiles, Puerto Viejo and Siquirres. The 50-officer sweep is scheduled to run through Sept. 30.
“We have an obligation with these provinces and we are honoring it,” del Vecchio said. “The 100-day operation will include land, sea and aerial teams under constant supervision.”
The minister, who said the focus will be to “clean the streets of these people (crackheads and dealers),” said the locals have an obligation to help the police.
“We’re talking about a battle in which the citizens need to play an important role, reporting their suspicious neighbors,” she said. “We can have 20,000 police, or all the police people want, but if the community doesn’t help us achieve the goal of decreasing crime, there will be no results.”
During an early July press conference to announce the sweeps, del Vecchio, National Police Chief Erick Lacayo and President Oscar Arias said the sweep is an experiment to see if the police can come up with a strategy that works in Limón.
“We’ve had important operations in the past in Limón, but the majority were ineffective and unsustainable,” Arias said. “Now we’re talking about 100 days because the idea is to evaluate a strategy.”
“The 100-day operation is a comprehensive plan that will give us guidelines to combat this scourge (of crack),” del Vecchio said.