Costa Rica is experiencing an alarming rise in homicides and collateral victims this year. According to Deputy Director General Michael Soto of the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ), there have been over 26 indirect homicide victims so far in 2022 amidst escalating violence nationwide.
“In recent times, several deadly shootings have unfolded near schools and colleges, leading to tragic collateral deaths,” noted Soto. “Every single life lost is a tragedy, regardless of one’s past. The rampant rise in homicides should concern all citizens.”
Remarkably, this figure is more than four times the 2021 total of 7 collateral victims, highlighting the severity of the worsening crisis. Overall homicides have also surged, with 701 lives lost so far this year according to official data.
Heartbreaking cases include that of 8-year-old Samuel Arroyo, killed by a stray bullet from a nearby shootout while sleeping at home in La Gloria de Zapote last February. The senseless violence has claimed innocent lives.
Soto revealed that a staggering 81% of the 701 homicides involved firearms, reflecting their growing prevalence versus knives previously. The 9mm caliber is most common, but confiscations of assault rifles suggest an illegal arms flow from abroad.
Experts say nearly 60% of homicides tie to drug trafficking disputes between gangs. These confrontations rage most violently in urban coastal locales, with increasingly gruesome crime scenes.
If current trends continue, projections estimate 2022 could close with around 900 total homicides nationwide – a harrowing rate of 18 per 100,000 people.
Costa Rica is renowned for its peace and stability. But the rapid proliferation of firearms and the brutal drug trade are threatening the nation’s cherished way of life. Authorities say curbing arms trafficking and boosting community development in vulnerable areas are crucial to restoring security. But the increasingly brazen killings are a stark warning – action must be taken now before the crisis claims more innocent lives.