Investigators rounded up 12 persons Tuesday in an unusual series of 20 raids in Barrio Sagrada Familia in southern San José Centro.
Seven of the suspects were juveniles, said the Poder Judicial. They face allegations of aggravated robbery, attempted murder, threats, extortion and weapons violations.
Agents detained one suspect as far away as San Carlos. Police and investigators still were in the barrio after 5 p.m., presumably seeking other suspects.
The Poder Judicial said that the crimes alleged stemmed from October through December.
The raids validate police concerns that juvenile crime is on the increase.
Security ministry officials were miffed that the director of the Judicial Investigating Organization, Jorge Rojas Vargas, said that part of the problem in the barrio was the absence of street policemen. The regional director of the Fuerza Pública, Raúl
Rivera Bonilla, was quoted in a release saying that his officers helped investigators identify and locate the juvenile violators.
The gang was described as being particularly violent and even set one barrio resident afire. In addition, the gang members were engaged in extorting money from residents in exchange for their safety. Sometimes homes were raked by bullets. The criminal activity extended into adjacent barrios, police said.
The youngsters were heavily armed. The five adults were being considered to be the individuals who directed the criminality.
No identities of those arrested were released.
In an unrelated case, Fuerza Pública officers in Tibás got the news that men in a vehicle were driving around robbing pedestrians. Officers caught up with three suspects in Calle Blancos north of San José in Guadalupe and made the arrests Monday night. The trio were submitted to the flagrancy court because police detained them quickly after a robbery and then found suspected stolen property in the car.