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(506) 2223-1327                                 San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 170                               Email us
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Security minister estimates a 19% hike in murders
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The security minister told legislators Thursday that 2015 may end with 537 murders due to organized crime organizations operating here. That number would be nearly 19 percent higher than last year when investigators reported  453 murders.

As if to validate the security minister's estimate, two more persons died Thursday in shootings that appear to be linked to organized crime.

The minister,  Gustavo Mata, appeared before theComisión Permanente Especial de Seguridad y Narcotráfico to give the chilling estimate.

He said that so far this year there have been 358 murders which caused the Ministerio de Gobernación y Policía y Seguridad Pública to take action in areas where the crimes were the highest.

The minster also said that resources have been taken from other areas to address the Central Valley murder problem. In some areas police are going door-to-door to root out organized bands.

The minster did not give specifics, but this week officers put on shows of force in El Infiernillo de Alajuela and continued patrols in Guararí de Heredia.

Mata said that the deaths come from drug gangs trying to expand their distribution networks. 

He said that in his 32 years as a policeman he never has seen a situation in Costa Rica such as the current one from 2014 to now. He extrapolated the deaths as of this date to reach the 537 figure. He noted, however, that Costa Rica still has a lower murder rate than El Salvador or Honduras.

Allan Solano, the head of the Policía de Control de Drogas, accompanied Mata before the committee. He said that police confiscated 25 tons of drugs last year.

The murders Thursday included that of a 42-year-old Pavas man who died about 2:30 p.m. from a gunshot to the head. In  San Diego de La Unión de Tres Ríos, also
Thursday afternoon, one man died and another suffered a bullet wound when two
Ministerio de Seguridad photo 
 Police frisk young men as part of their sweep
Guararí de Heredia.

men on a motorcycle pulled up alongside their car and started shooting.

Investigators said that both of the murdered individuals had police records.

El Infiernillo de Alajuela, as the informal name implies, is known for its shootouts and drug dens. The Fuerza Pública said Tuesday that with constant patrols and the police presence in the streets peace and security has returned to the area that is formally known as Barrio Santa Rita in San José district of the Alajuela central canton.

Juan José Andrade, head of the Fuerza Pública, said the increased police patrols have been going on for several weeks.

The result has been the confiscation of firearms, marijuana and crack cocaine.

Similarly in Guararí de Heredia the Fuerza Pública has stepped up patrols.

A portable police headquarters was set up at the entrance to the community, and a strategy of patrols was outlined, police said.

In addition, officers and agents of the Policía de Tránsito, the Policía Municipal and the Judicial   Investigating Organization participated.

As an indication of crime in this community, police said that during the year 332 persons were detained, some 209 for drug law violations. In addition, six firearms, 462 crack rocks, 1,486 kilos of cocaine and  a bit more than a kilo of marijuana were confiscated.

Festejos San Ramón 2015 photo
No festival is complete without mascaradas and a street band, a cimarrona.
The fiesta is at San Ramón for the next 11 days
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

San Ramón has begun its 12-day festival in honor of its patron,  San Ramón Nonato.

The festival features the Entrada de Santos at 10 a.m. Sunday and what organizers call the biggest parade of boyeros and their bueyes a week from Sunday. Some 300 teams are expected.

The festival closes Sept. 7 with a serenade generated by the noise of pots and frying pans as the last meals are served up.

This is the 164th festival, and organizers said they expect 500,000 visitors.

Tonight is the unique Familia Reinante 2015 in which a family instead of an individual queen is selected. The winner will be the family that has collected the most money for

the festival over the last three months. The event is followed by a dance featuring the  Banda Chiqui Chiqui as well as the group Los Navegantes.

The festival, which is organized by the local Catholic church there, is known for the many food dishes that are sold. This is a family event, and organizers note that alcoholic beverages are not sold at the festival.

San Ramón Nonato is a 13th century Spanish saint who was termed nonoato after the Latin phrase being not born. He came into the world by cesarean as his mother neared death. Consequently he also is the patron saint of pregnant women.

In his capacity as a priest he traveled to Muslim territories to ransom fellow Catholics and once gave himself up as a hostage, according to an online biography of his life.

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