San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Cops collar U.S. man wanted on sex abuse charges

In a case of either fast and efficient police work or bad decision making by a wanted sex offender – or both – Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) apprehended a U.S. man wanted on charges of sexually abusing minors, less than 36 hours after he appeared on a most-wanted list issued by the OIJ on Monday.

Charles Espina, 55, was captured in the eastern San José neighborhood of Los Yoses at noon on Tuesday, after OIJ agents were tipped off by a witness who saw him in the neighborhood.

Espina had been on the run for four months after being convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison for paying for sex with multiple minors, according to an OIJ statement. 

The most-wanted list was released early Monday and includes 15 fugitives – 14 men and one woman – who were convicted of various crimes.

Six were convicted of aggravated assault, three of drug-related charges, two of sexual offenses and one of murder, among other crimes.

In addition to Espina, seven other foreign citizens appeared on the list, including six Nicaraguans and one Irish man. 

This story was updated to include the details of Espina’s arrest.

Anyone with information on the fugitives can call a confidential tip line at: 800-8000645. Information also can be sent by email to OIJ’s Confidential Information Center:

Contact L. Arias at

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