Judicial statistics show a 10 percent drop in murders

here were fewer murders in Costa Rica in 2011 than in the year before, in part because there were fewer arranged hits.

The Poder Judicial’s Sección de Estadística said that there were 474 murders last year, a reduction of 53 or 10 percent from the year before when there were 527.

There were 40 cases in 2010 that investigators characterized as murders for hire. In 2011 there were 17.

The nation’s overall murder rate in 2011 was 10.3 per every 100,000 of inhabitants. That is down from 11.5 in 2010. However, there was a wide range of local rates. In the Province of Limón, for example, the murder rate in 2011 was 24.6 for every 100,000 inhabitants. The province saw 111 murders, including 24 in the canton of Pococí alone.

The province of San José with its higher population led the list with 171 murders, but the Poder Judicial reported significant decreases in the troubled, low-income communities of Los Cuadros, where murders declined from 19 to nine, La Carpio where there were nine murders in 2010 and just four in 2011, León XIII where murders went from 11 to two and Guararí where the number went from nine
to three. Tejarcillos de Alajuelita showed an increase of three from six to nine.

This is only the second time this century when the number of murders declined. In 2004 the number dropped to 290 from the 300 of the previous year, according to the statistical report.

Based on the statistical report, murders have increased in the country some 69.3 percent during the seven years since 2004.

The report said that 99 persons died in 2011 as the result of robberies. That was 16 fewer than the year before. Eight persons died because a robber wanted their cell telephone, according to the data.

Investigators attributed 51 murders to disputes among members of drug gangs. Some 154 persons, 14 fewer than in 2010, died because they were involved in some illegal activity, said the report.

Law officers killed 42 in various situations in which individuals resisted authorities, the report said.

The majority of those killed, 378, were Costa Ricans, followed by Nicaraguans (55) and Colombians (14).

The report said that 300 of the deaths came from firearms, mainly handguns. Knives killed 91 persons.

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