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Costa Rica and Spain dismantle criminal network that kidnapped U.S. citizen

January 13, 2019

Costa Rican and Spanish authorities carried out simultaneous raids Friday and detained 12 people in an operation to dismantle a network suspected of extortive kidnapping of a United States businessman who remains missing, Costa Rican police said.

The raids were made in the Spanish city of Zaragoza and several locations around the Costa Rican capital, reported the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) of the Central American country.

The three alleged leaders of the gang of kidnappers were captured in Zaragoza thanks to collaboration with the Spanish police, said Walter Espinoza, director of Costa Rica’s OIJ.

The three leaders of the group, a Costa Rican named Morales Vega, his mother and his partner, moved to Spain after the kidnapping of the U.S. businessman, which occurred last September.

The Costa Rican prosecutor’s office said in a statement that it obtained court orders for all three to be moved from Spain to Costa Rica.

Among the detainees in Costa Rica are the grandmother and an uncle of the leader of the gang, as well as two officers of the Traffic Police, surnames Jirón López and Medrano Vargas.

During the raids, the police confiscated firearms, cell phones, computers, vehicles and papers with notes, among other evidences, according to Espinoza.

The case goes back to the night of Sept. 24 in the town of Granadilla, east of San José, when United States citizen William Sean Creighton Kopko was kidnapped.

[Editor’s Note: Kopko is the owner of sportsbook 5Dimes.]  

Espinoza said the suspects followed the abductee with the alleged collaboration of the two traffic officials and took him to a site that has not yet been determined.

The kidnappers demanded that Kopko’s relatives pay almost $1 million in the virtual currency Bitcoin, according to the prosecution.

After the events, the three leaders of the kidnapping network moved to Cuba, where they stayed more than a month before traveling to Alicante and then Zaragoza, in Spain.

Watch OIJ’s press conference below:

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