Solís responds to crime wave concerns with more police on the streets

President Luis Guillermo Solís announced immediate actions Wednesday to counter the crime problem that has been growing for years.

The president held a meeting with Judicial and legislative leaders, and later said he was pushing for approval of a handful of bills that would improve security.

The president also said that 500 more officers would be sent into areas where drug transactions are high.

Officials were shaken by a weekend this month that saw at least eight murders. And there appears to be at least one a day since.

The security minister, Gustavo Mata Vega, said that as of Oct. 9 there had been 426 murders this year. At least 150 of these may have been the result of drug crimes.

There was another murder in Parrita Monday night, and that also appears to have been drug related.

A murder about 5 a.m. Wednesday morning might shed some light on conditions that have encouraged criminality.

Dead was a 34-year-old man with the last name of  Villalta.  He was shot in the head.

He was an armed robber who received a four-year and six-month prison term, but after he had served a third of his term he was evaluated by the Instituto Nacional de Criminología, according to the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz that runs the prisons.

As a result of the evaluation, the man was allowed to enter a program where he had to sleep one night a week at a location run by the prisons. That was as of Sept. 28.

The idea was to reintegrate the man into the community, the ministry said in a press statement.  It added that there were 4,450 persons in the same type of program, which officials called semi-institutional. In just San José there are 1,327, they said.

The killing happened as Villalta was leaving the center where he overnighted in Guadalupe de Goicoechea.

The problem faced by officials is complex because drug activities are made up of many small groups. Sometimes these are family members.  Officials designate these activities as organized crime, but there does not seem to be one or a few leaders who might be detained.

The local drug distribution which prompts many of the killings is separate from the international smuggling activities handled by the well-known cartels.

The Paritta murder is an example. The suspects are four residents of Parrita who were detained not long after the victim’s body was found buried in Playa Palo Seco.

The same day, Tuesday, judicial agents detained seven other persons who are linked to two other murders. One is in Cartago and the other was in Pavas. The cases do not seem to be related.

The additional problem for administration officials is that the murder and crime situation has become a political issue with opposition party members blaming Solís.

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