San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Fake Cops Strike Again; 3 Men Busted in Esparza

For the second time in a month, police arrested suspected criminals with unlawful possession of an assortment of police gear.

Authorities believe the men used the gear to rob people while posing as officers. Three Ticos were arrested July 20 outside a bar in Esparza in Puntarenas province, on the central Pacific. Their seized possessions were included fake Drug Control Police (PCD) uniforms, a perfect replica of a Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) license plate, handcuffs, ski masks, three pistols and an undisclosed amount of cocaine.

According to Public Security Ministry spokesman Carlos Hidalgo, the three remain in police custody pending a decision by the Chief Prosecutor to request preventive prison.

“They are under investigation based on a number of criminal complaints against alleged police officers robbing people,” he said.

The fake PCD uniforms are of low quality, but the OIJ license plate is a perfect copy, he said, and represents a disturbing sophistication of organized crime.

In late June, police arrested three men in Ciudad Neily, near the border with Panama, who had National Police camouflage clothing, bulletproof jackets, sirens, security cones, communication radios, three pistols and a 12-gauge shotgun (TT, July 4).

Police said they believed the men planned to set up illegal checkpoints and rob or kill people. However, even though they were carrying illegal firearms, prosecutors released two of the men and held the third on unrelated charges.


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