More than 2,600 people were arrested after the first week of a special operation against Costa Rica organized crime launched by the government to curb the increase in violent deaths in the country, authorities said Tuesday.
Since Costa Rican President Rodrigo Chaves announced last Tuesday the Safe Costa Rica operation, which involves increasing the number of police on the streets and the incorporation of 700 uniformed officers, the operations have not stopped.
The Vice Minister of Public Security, Police Commissioner Daniel Calderón, highlighted in a video provided to the press that 16 arrests were for crimes against life and more than 90 for crimes against property, mainly assault.
Also 60 detainees who had “pending matters with the justice system,” said Calderon.
“It is very important for them to face the crimes for which they are already being prosecuted, or in other cases, to go to penal centers to serve their sentences”, added the officer.
In addition to the arrests, 47 firearms, 11 “less lethal” weapons and 106 bladed weapons were seized, as well as various quantities of different drugs.
The special operation, which will last six months, was initially rejected by the police officers, who demonstrated in the streets of the country, considering it unfair to reduce their rest day. After meetings between the government and the police officers, they stopped the demonstrations.
The Costa Rican government seeks to combat organized crime and the escalation of homicides in several parts of the country, which made 2022 the year with the highest number of violent deaths since records began.
According to the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ), there were 856 homicides in Costa Rica in 2022, a record number. The rate of violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants rose to 12.6, compared to 11.4 in 2021.
Of these deaths, 63% were settling of scores between criminals. So far in 2023, 261 homicides were registered, according to the OIJ.