San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Colombians Arrested, Accused of Targeting Tourists

Tourist Police arrested three Colombians they believe responsible for targeting foreigners.

The suspects were set free the next day by a judge.

“Of course, they’ve already been freed,” said a frustrated Tourism Police Chief Katia Chavarría. “Every day, we’re chasing the same criminals around over and over again. We’re hoping the laws will be changed.”

Chavarría said all three suspects have been arrested on multiple occasions for the same crime.

Authorities arrested three men – last names Quintana, Correa and Pinzón – Sunday near the Los Caribeños bus station in San José after the suspects allegedly robbed some tourists by using the “pinchonazo” method.

Pinchonazo consists of puncturing a parked car’s tires, waiting for the driver to drive away, following him until he pulls over and then robbing the occupants.

“The alleged gang of ‘tourist-assaulters’ fled in a Nissan Sentra after the robbery, but tourism authorities hindered their escape,” states a Public Security Ministry press release.

All three suspects, two of them refugees and another arrested for the same crime in April (TT, April 18), have already been released by a criminal judge. Under Costa Rican law, police can hold suspects for just 24 hours before a judge orders preventive prison, other precautionary measures or unconditional freedom.

An omnibus crime bill that would strengthen laws and procedures has been before the Legislative Assembly since March but still hasn’t made it out of committee.

–Nick Wilkinson


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