Traffic police officials suspended in wake of pistol robbery

The minister of Obras Públicas, Francisco J. Jiménez, has suspended the head of the traffic police and three other persons in the wake of the robbery of 215 firearms from a storage area in Plaza González Víquez.

The suspensions with pay are the expected response to a crime that has embarrassed the Laura Chinchilla administration.

Suspended were César Quirós Mora, the director of the traffic police, and three subordinates who had responsibility for safeguarding the new pistols. They were Glock 19 9-mm. handguns that would have been used by traffic policemen.

The Judicial Investigating Organization confirmed that four men had taken part in the heist early Monday and accomplished it by gagging and tying two private security guards. One of the guards was an employee of the security firm contracted to guard the premises while the other was an employee of the construction company working on the new police facilities adjacent to the warehouse, said Quirós Tuesday.
The public works minster held a press conference Thursday to announce the suspensions. He said the individuals would be suspended while an investigation continues.

There is more than enough blame to go around. One of the guards did not have a permit to carry the gun he had. The storage area was not secure, and the guards did not know weapons were stored there.

Very few persons knew that the weapons were there, so investigators are considering the criminals had inside help.

The storage was temporary while a more secure structure was being built. The value of the weapons is 83 million colons, the ministry reported. That is about $165,000. The crooks left behind 165 identical firearms because they were locked up more securely. They have since been placed under the control of the security ministry’s firearms section.

Judicial investigators have been conducting a number of raids on the homes of known robbers. They have made arrests and found illegal weapons but not the stolen Glock pistols.

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