The security minister told legislators Thursday that 2015 may end with 537 murders due to organized crime organizations operating here. That number would be nearly 19 percent higher than last year when investigators reported 453 murders.
As if to validate the security minister’s estimate, two more persons died Thursday in shootings that appear to be linked to organized crime.
The minister, Gustavo Mata, appeared before theComisión Permanente Especial de Seguridad y Narcotráfico to give the chilling estimate.
He said that so far this year there have been 358 murders which caused the Ministerio de Gobernación y Policía y Seguridad Pública to take action in areas where the crimes were the highest.
The minster also said that resources have been taken from other areas to address the Central Valley murder problem. In some areas police are going door-to-door to root out organized bands.
The minster did not give specifics, but this week officers put on shows of force in El Infiernillo de Alajuela and continued patrols in Guararí de Heredia.
Mata said that the deaths come from drug gangs trying to expand their distribution networks.
He said that in his 32 years as a policeman he never has seen a situation in Costa Rica such as the current one from 2014 to now. He extrapolated the deaths as of this date to reach the 537 figure. He noted, however, that Costa Rica still has a lower murder rate than El Salvador or Honduras.
Allan Solano, the head of the Policía de Control de Drogas, accompanied Mata before the committee. He said that police confiscated 25 tons of drugs last year.
The murders Thursday included that of a 42-year-old Pavas man who died about 2:30 p.m. from a gunshot to the head. In San Diego de La Unión de Tres Ríos, also Thursday afternoon, one man died and another suffered a bullet wound when two men on a motorcycle pulled up alongside their car and started shooting.
Investigators said that both of the murdered individuals had police records.
El Infiernillo de Alajuela, as the informal name implies, is known for its shootouts and drug dens. The Fuerza Pública said Tuesday that with constant patrols and the police presence in the streets peace and security has returned to the area that is formally known as Barrio Santa Rita in San José district of the Alajuela central canton.
Juan José Andrade, head of the Fuerza Pública, said the increased police patrols have been going on for several weeks.
The result has been the confiscation of firearms, marijuana and crack cocaine.
Similarly in Guararí de Heredia the Fuerza Pública has stepped up patrols.
A portable police headquarters was set up at the entrance to the community, and a strategy of patrols was outlined, police said.
In addition, officers and agents of the Policía de Tránsito, the Policía Municipal and the Judicial Investigating Organization participated.
As an indication of crime in this community, police said that during the year 332 persons were detained, some 209 for drug law violations. In addition, six firearms, 462 crack rocks, 1,486 kilos of cocaine and a bit more than a kilo of marijuana were confiscated.