San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

The 10 most popular Tico Times stories of 2013

Our most-clicked stories of 2013 involved, certainly not unexpectedly, a mix of scandal and mystery. These topics included the biggest alleged money-laundering case in history, an environmentalist’s brutal death, the polemical figure Paul Watson and a screwy crocodile attack.

Here are The Tico Times’ most popular articles from this year (with the top 5 arranged by most popular topic):

YIR 2013 Liberty Reserve Rolls

Police seized this Rolls Royce and other luxury cars from Liberty Reserve founder Arthur Budovsky’s home in a southwestern San José suburb in late May. Courtesy OIJ

1. Liberty Reserve

A scandal in Costa Rica involving digital currency operator Liberty Reserve attracted international attention last May. That’s what happens when $6 billion and U.S. federal prosecutor Preet Bharara are involved.

The breaking of what U.S. prosecutors called “bank of choice for the criminal underworld” involved arrests in Costa Rica, New York and Spain.

Costa Rican arrested in Spain for alleged financial crimes

Millions of dollars in limbo after shuttering of digital currency site Liberty Reserve

U.S.: Liberty Reserve the largest money-laundering probe in history

Liberty Reserve: A cyberweb of intrigue

Costa Rican President Chinchilla denies link to Liberty Reserve attorney

A Russian patsy or high-tech criminal?

2. The Jairo Mora Murder

Jairo Mora, a young Costa Rican conservationist, and four foreign volunteers were captured while patrolling for nesting sea turtles on a northeastern Caribbean beach. The four volunteers escaped captivity, but Mora was beaten, stripped, dragged behind a car, and left to die on the beach. The brutal attack and the investigation that followed dominated our headlines for months, generating safety concerns among the environmental community, both in Costa Rica and abroad.

Turtle conservationist Jairo Mora Sandoval found murdered on Playa Moín in Costa Rica

Why Jairo died

Murdered Costa Rican conservationist had been chased by AK-47-wielding poachers

In Costa Rica, a peace vigil for slain turtle conservationist Jairo Mora

8 suspects arrested in Jairo Mora case, but motive remains unclear

YIR 2013 croc 2

This crocodile attacked surfers in Tamarindo last October. Courtesy of Rafael Sandoval

3. Tamarindo Crocodile Attack, Sorta

Last October, a croc harassed a tasty surfer in Tamarindo, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. There were many conflicting versions about what exactly happened, but the slashed-up surfer sympathized with the reptile, saying he just got in the predator’s way.

Surfers survive attack by 7-foot Costa Rican crocodile in Tamarindo

7-foot crocodile that attacked surfer in Costa Rica was ‘just confused,’ says victim 

4. Sources: Reagan Administration, CIA Complicit in DEA Agent’s Murder

A series of exclusive reports on (more) alleged U.S. government meddling in Latin America during the Reagan era became our fourth most popular topic of the year. Two former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and a former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency contract pilot are claiming that the Reagan Administration was complicit in the 1985 murder of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena at the hands of Mexican drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero. The author of the series also argued for further scrutiny on links between the CIA and the Contras.

Reports: CIA present during U.S. drug agent’s torture, murder

Costa Rican journalist calls for re-examination of CIA-Contra drug links, DEA agent’s murder

Reagan administration, CIA complicit in DEA agent’s murder, say former insiders

27 years later, CIA pilot tells of using secret Costa Rican airstrip to traffic guns, cocaine

5. Mass sea turtle deaths

The mass deaths of critically endangered sea turtles touched off a major ripple among readers. At least 70 Eastern Pacific green sea turtles were found dead and washed up ashore, with hundreds more reported offshore.  After much speculation about the cause of death (including dynamite-fishing), the most likely explanation seemed to be red tide.

Conservation group finds 70 dead sea turtles off Costa Rica’s Pacific coast

Hundreds of dead sea turtles could be headed for Costa Rica’s northwestern shores, officials say

Costa Rican officials say dynamite may have caused mass turtle deaths discovered this week

What is killing hundreds of Central American sea turtles?

Diversity Parade

Thousands of Ticos march for marriage equality and family rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people on Sunday, June 30.
Alberto Font

Stories 6-10

6. Costa Rican legislature accidentally passes gay marriage legalization

7. FIFA opens investigation against Costa Rica following United States match

8. Meet CambYoCar: the first car to be designed and built in Costa Rica

YIR 2013 Steve Flesch  2

Steve Flesch, an experienced traveler, visited 42 countries before he was murdered in April in the San José suburb of Desamparados. Courtesy of the Flesch family

9. He never came home

10. Costa Rica seeks arrest, extradition from US of Sea Shepherd’s Paul Watson

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