Five police officers among 15 held in human trafficking case

Fifteen persons have been arrested on allegations of transporting or housing illegal Nicaraguans. The suspects include five Fuerza Pública officers who may have facilitated their illegal passage. Authorities made the arrests after a series of raids in the Liberia area Saturday morning.

They found more than 40 illegal Nicaraguan migrants living in a house that was under surveillance. Investigation they said had been on the case for more than 10 years. The police officers who were arrested are three from Bagaces and two from Liberia, according to a representative from the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The Nicaraguans are presumed to have been en route from their home country to San José to find work. The representative added that the length of the decade-long investigation was due to a revolving door of suspects that made solid evidence hard to come by.

Last October the dormant probe received a revitalizing spark thanks to confidential information that allowed investigating agents to focus their watch on two particular groups suspected of trafficking this illegal flow of immigration, the judicial agency said..

Agents said that the two groups are interconnected as one party is responsible for getting Nicaraguans across the Costa Rican border without proper documentation or valid identification. Then the next group takes the migrants and hides them throughout northern Costa Rica, where they wait for transportation to San José. Investigators said they believe the incoming migrants who are normally of a low-education background pay around $150 per person to be smuggled into the country.

During the investigation it was found that the groups had an intricate system in place to avoid police detection. One of their six cars would act as a scout to see if any police checkpoints were set up along the planned route. If they were, the suspects would hide out among the farms and villages between La Cruz and Liberia, investigators said.

They said the majority of time suspects were transported in modified cars with tinted-windows and lifted rear suspensions that allow for upwards of 12 people to fit in a five-person car.

Investigators said they have collected cell phones for potential evidence for this continuing case.

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