A “significant” amount of guns, ammunition and explosives have disappeared from the government’s arsenal, likely with help from at least one official, and have probably been sold on the international market, Public Security Minister Fernando Berrocal said Monday.
Berrocal announced May 8 that he had found irregularities between the number of weapons that should be in the ministry’s possession and the number of weapons accounted for (TT, May 19). An internal audit of the stockpiles concluded May 26 and confirmed the suspicions.
Berrocal has declined to say exactly how many or what types of weapons are missing, and explained that he is prohibited from doing so by law because the inventory of the ministry’s arsenal is classified as a “state secret.”
“Some of the weapons are of a significant caliber and have a high price on the international arms market,” Berrocal told the press Monday, shortly before submitting the audit report to Chief Prosecutor Francisco Dall’Anese for official investigation. “I imagine they are linked to international affairs. There is no other explanation.”
According to Public Security Ministry general auditor Juan de Dios Araya, who carried out the inspection, this is the first time since 1998 – when Miguel Angel Rodríguez succeeded José María Figueres as President – that the government has carried out a full audit of the Public Security Ministry’s weapons.
The Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the disappearance. In addition, it was reported the same day that another sizeable amount of weapons disappeared from the police station in Guácimo, on the Caribbean slope.
According to the daily La Nación, 25 high-caliber weapons and 1,500 bullets were stolen at some point between Friday and Monday morning. The weapons and ammunition were taken with no sign of forced entry, leading officials to suspect that one of the 50 officials from the station may be involved.
The missing guns comprise 15 M-16 assault rifles, four .45-caliber hand guns, one 9-mm pistol and five .38-caliber revolvers, the daily reported.