In an anti-crime sweep over the weekend, Costa Rican police and officials from the Aguirre Municipality hit the tourist hotspot of Manuel Antonio, the country’s top travel destination on the central Pacific coast, to clean up the area after years of complaints.
The joint operation between Tourist Police, Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ), the Coast Guard and the Health Ministry responded to ongoing complaints from businesses and tourists about aggressive unlicensed vendors, rampant drug use and robberies. Authorities shut down 15 markets operating without business or health permits and arrested two women, who were later released after paying a fine.
Police also confiscated small amounts of marijuana, cocaine and crack.
“I see that the attitude of the ministry is very different today. It is not an isolated event but a flurry of events that will help us recover this beautiful area,” said Boris Marchegiani, president of the Manuel Antonio, Quepos, Aguirre Tourism Chamber, in a statement from the Public Security Ministry.
Tourist Police Director Xinia Vásquez told The Tico Times that cops would reinforce their presence during the weekends, and the Tourist Police would continue to cooperate with community organizations in the area.
“We’re assisting the municipality in establishing order so as not to affect tourists,” Vásquez said. “We’re trying to guarantee a safe tourist area where visitors don’t feel threatened and can enjoy the park.”
According to crime statistics from the OIJ, in 2013, 243 people were robbed in the Quepos area, which includes Manuel Antonio, an increase of 37 percent over 2012. Burglaries of homes also increased by 8.8 percent, from 114 in 2012 to 124 in 2013. On a positive note, burglaries of autos were down more than 46 percent, from 130 in 2012 to 69 in 2013.
Only 11.7 percent of the 1,031 crimes reported to the Quepos OIJ delegation were considered violent.