San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Police recover 56 pistols stolen from warehouse

Raids by agents of the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) recovered 56 of the 215 Glock 9mm pistols stolen from a Public Works and Transportation Ministry (MOPT) warehouse in San José early Monday morning.

OIJ agents found the pistols in hidden compartments in the walls and roof of a house in Concepción de Alajuelita, said Monica Chavarría, an OIJ spokeswoman. Chavarría said one man was taken into custody during the raids.

At a press conference Friday afternoon Public Security Minister Mario Zamora announced that though some of the pistols had been recovered, the search is still on for the remaining 159 weapons stolen Monday. During the raids, agents also found 101 magazines to go with the guns.

Zamora added that there is no doubt the recovered pistols are the stolen MOPT weapons because each gun is imprinted with a MOPT insignia, and the weapons’ serial numbers correspond to records kept by the ministry. The serial numbers of several other weapons recovered Thursday are being checked to determine their origin.

Public Prosecutor Jorge Chavarría, when asked whether the investigation of the robbery had indicated any connections to organized crime, replied that he could not reveal any details of the investigation, but “a crime like this needs a pre-existing market.”

Rodrigo Rivera, MOPT vice minister, deflected questions about why the pistols had been kept in the MOPT warehouse since December and not moved to a more secure location by saying an internal MOPT investigation is examining that issue.

MOPT estimated the value of the 215 stolen guns at arms at approximately ₡83 million ($75,084). The guns were stolen from a MOPT warehouse near Plaza Viquez in San José, which was guarded by an employee of a private security firm. The thieves left an additional 165 pistols behind as well as bullet proof vests and other police equipment, all of which was slated to be put into services by members of the Traffic Police. The director of the Traffic Police, César Quirós, and three others were suspended due to the robbery. 

Raids executed in the Leon XIII area north of San José earlier this week in search of the stolen weapons turned up a number of illegally owned firearms, but none of MOPT’s remaining 159 missing Glocks.

The 56 recovered weapons and magazines where taken under guard by caravan to the national armory after Friday’s press conference.

*Note: An earlier version of this story reported 60 weapons had been recovered.

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