Central drug courts proposed in wake of judge’s detention

The head of the Corte Suprema de Justicia said she wants to create specialized courts in San José that would handle organized crime and drug trafficking cases from all over the country.

The proposal came on the same day that investigators took in to custody a judge in Limón on an allegation of rigging court cases in favor of drug traffickers.

“I’m very satisfied with the ways we are combating drug trafficking in our organization,” said Zarela Villanueva. “But we believe that to act more rapidly we should create a national court for organized crime and drug trafficking in order to make a system that is independent and effective.” She is the president of the supreme court.

The Limón judge suspected of rigging court cases in favor of drug traffickers is Rosa Elena Gamboa, She is under investigation for suspicious rulings relating to the freeing of  drug suspects with whom she may have had prior agreements, said a Judicial Investigating Organization  press representative.

The representative said that the 62-year-old judge of the Primer Circuito Judicial de la Zona Atlántica was specifically detained for suspected crimes listed under Ley 8204, which covers influence peddling.

Magistrate Villanueva, who ordered the initial investigation, said Friday that this raises an unfortunate cloud over the country’s court system. The Judicial Investigating Organization has been working on this specific case for more than a year, according to the report.

“It’s been enough time in which our institution has used the appropriate mechanisms to detect and investigate,” Ms. Villanueva said. “This is not a product of acting overnight. This action has taken time to develop.”

She confirmed that the Ministerio Público and the Judicial Investigating Organization are handling a joint investigation into Ms. Gamboa, who will pass through the normal judiciary process.

“This is a criminal process that continues until any subsequent consequences are deemed necessary or unnecessary,” she said.

Ms. Villanueva said that this case is being treated as an isolated incident as of now and it should not cast doubt on other judges in Limón or throughout the country. She added that court officials are trying to improve individual responsibility profiles of judges that monitor their actions in trials.

Agents brought the judge to San José for questioning, but she was released later. Friday they confiscated a computer, tablet, and documents from her house and office, an judicial representative said.

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