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Friday, July 12, 2024

Costa Rica Busts Massive Property Fraud Ring

The Judicial Investigation Organism (OIJ) confirmed the arrest of a group of people linked to the irregular acquisition of 300 properties and money laundering. The OIJ discovered that, as part of the scheme to legitimize the money, they set up various businesses such as bus services and outlet stores.

Authorities conducted 47 raids in Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago, San José, and Puntarenas on Tuesday, seizing 38 vehicles and 13 buses from Alajuela and Puntarenas. As confirmed by the OIJ, 54 people are being investigated.

“Motherland” (“Madre Patria”), as the case is known, had been under investigation for two and a half years. The director of the OIJ, Randall Zúñiga, described the operation as “organized crime” due to the complex organization of participants.

Two Spaniards are identified as the coordinators. Additionally, the OIJ revealed that 12 notaries in charge of registration procedures, 5 traffic police officers, a judge from Desamparados who provided legal advice, a technician from the Public Defender’s Office, an archive technician, and a judicial officer stationed in La Unión were involved.

“They obtain properties that are perhaps in some kind of disuse. They would steal them from the registry, presumably, and then sell them to other people,” said Zúñiga.

As part of the investigation, the group’s participation in the cryptocurrency market is also being reviewed. “In just one day, to get an idea of the amount of money handled by this organization, they traded $13 million in Bitcoins,” said Zúñiga. The OIJ had been examining the possible crimes of registry fraud, money laundering, and ideological falsehood.

One of the Spaniards arrested in San Rafael de Heredia, an alleged leader, lived a luxurious life. At his property, raided on Tuesday, he had a swimming pool and five luxury cars. In addition, a collection of fine watches and four safes containing jewelry were seized.

“This Spaniard is one of the main leaders of the criminal structure that we are dismantling today. There are two Spaniards who have been living in the country for 10 years. The raided property, where one of them lives, comes from a registration fraud, according to the investigation,” said Michael Soto, deputy director of the OIJ.

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