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Costa Rica Immigration does some housecleaning

September 19, 2008

Immigration Director Mario Zamora has filed police reports against 24 of his own officials.

According to a report in the daily La Nación yesterday, Zamora filed criminal complaints against the officials for their allegedly falsifying entry and exit stamps to allow Ticos to stay longer in the United States than legally allowed.

Immigration officials charged from $150 to $300 for the service and even traveled to the United States to perform the service for Ticos already in that country.

The United States has deported more than 200 Costa Ricans in the past few months for immigration violations, and the U.S. has suspended visas for all of the accused immigration officials, according to La Nación.

So far, most of the accused officials have not been fired but reportedly remain under investigation. One retired with a pension, two resigned and another was fired for unrelated reasons.

Zamora sent The Tico Times a summary of police reports against allegedly corrupt immigration officials in June, but he could not be reached yesterday to confirm if they are the same individuals involved in the falsified stamp enterprise.

Some of those officials include Piedra, González, Morales, Hartley, Camacho and Leguízamo. Camacho is a former Immigration policeman.

The accusations against them include information sabotage, accepting bribes, falsifying immigration records and other irregularities.

The summary includes a criminal complaint against a former official of the United Nations Refugee Agency, last name Morales, for providing immigration documentation without authorization.

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