ARCHIVE Published Friday, August 17, 2018 - First news page


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Government publishes report on
new measures to improve environment

By A.M. Costa Rica staff
President Carlos Alvarado and the minister of Environment and Energy, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, have informed the public of the most recent goals established in the quest to improve the environment.

The government cited these achievements:

A new directive was signed to promote hydrogen as fuel at the start of the Alvarado government, and next year, the first three electric buses will start carrying passengers.

The president also gave the order to keep access to the Crucitas mine closed to stop the intense, uncontrolled and highly polluting illegal mining. The Environmental Prosecutor's Office is in the process of rendering a verdict to the people who invaded the mines and extracted the gold illegally.

The president signed a law to regulate the consumption of plastic in public institutions. The plastic bags will be replaced by bags of continuous use such as fabric or biodegradable products.

In addition, the extension of the Rincon de la Vieja National Park in the area of the Cordillera de Guanacaste, declared by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a natural heritage site, was signed. The goals of the park expansion are two-fold, protecting  migratory species and safeguarding watersheds to guarantee water for the future.

The government also declared the Santa Elena Bay in Guanacaste an ecological marine area. This will protect 732 hectares in the ecosystem of the region.

A plan was also approved to expedite the approval of permits given by the Secretary of Environmental Technical Constructions. This plan has approved more than a thousand cases that were pending approval.

"We seek that SETENA can provide an optimal and expeditious service to the user, harmonizing the environmental impact with the productive processes," declared Alvarado last July, when referring to the transformation of the institution. The transformation is expected to positively impact the country's competitiveness indexes. He used the Spanish acronym for the agency.


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Casa Presidencial courtesy photo
 
The Rincon de la Vieja park expansion are two-fold, protecting  migratory species and safeguarding watersheds to guarantee water for the future.



In other actions of immediate impact, the plan for the safe reopening of the Poás Volcano National Park has been designed and is expected to have a positive impact for this area which attracts a great many tourists. The park had been closed since April 2017 due to intense volcanic activity.  Local commerce has suffered.

Reopening the park has included training sessions with officials, neighboring communities and tour operators, reconstruction of trails, placement of security signs, construction of shelters for possible emergencies, and acquisition of gas measurement sensors in real time, all within the framework of a model of security management unique in the region.

Finally, the Environment Fund increased the amount allocated to Costa Rica, from $8 to $ 12 million for the next four years. This increase will help the country to develop more plans to increase environmental protection, officials said.



Mexico captures 2 men suspected of
drug trafficking with links in Costa Rica

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Secretariat of the Navy of Mexico arrested 2 alleged members of the Sinaloa Cartel with links to Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador and Guatemala.

The two subjects are identified as Jesús Alberto and Hugo Alberto and were captured last Tuesday in a joint operation with the Federal Police and the Attorney General of the Mexico.

The first of the suspects was arrested in the city of Mexicali (Baja California). Two houses linked to the suspect were raided and 17 cars and a boat were found.

The second of the suspects was arrested in a luxurious house located on Isla de la Piedra in Mazatlan, Sinaloa. On the site, the subject had 300 grams of methamphetamine, 100 more of synthetic drug, a digital scale, a quad and 8 cell phones. Additionally, 2 more buildings were raided in that Mexican Pacific city.

"The detainees are not considered within the 122 priority objectives of the Federal Government. However, they are likely members of an international criminal organization, with a presence in the state of Sinaloa and ramifications in the countries of Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Costa Rica, which sent the drug via sea to the coast of Sinaloa, continuing via land and / or air to the United States of America," Semar was quoted in a statement released Thursday.

According to the Mexican authorities, the police of those countries participated in investigative actions with presumed members of the organization.

"The arrest of the two suspects significantly impacts the international structure of the criminal group they led, as well as the criminal organization to which they supplied narcotics," said the Mexican authority.

According to the reports of the Judicial Investigation Agency, the presence of Mexican drug traffickers in not new territory.

Last May, in multiple raids conducted in Escazú and Alajuela, the Judicial Investigation Agency detained 7 Mexicans suspected of forming a group dedicated to mobilizing drugs -by the land route- to North America.

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SEMAR courtesy photo    

The Secretariat of the Navy of Mexico is a member of the federal executive cabinet with responsibility for managing the country's navy and marine forces.

According to the report, the suspects had two companies incorporated in Costa Rica, and the foreigners used the export of leather products as a screen to transport the cocaine in a hidden system in the tires of the trucks that covered routes to Mexico and the United States.

In rented warehouses, the suspects put metal plates on the wheels of the trucks so that the packages were hidden and covered by the metal object. To confuse officers, they introduced legal merchandise (leather and plaster products) inside the containers.

It is believed that the group started operating in the country in mid-2017, because that date coincides with the first income of the suspects and the formation of the companies in the national territory.



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Published  Friday, August 17, 2018 - Second news page
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Costa Rica confirms its commitment to ban whaling

By A.M. Costa Rica staff


At the meeting of the International Whaling Commission,held in Brazil, representatives of Costa Rica pledged to continue efforts to protect whales and dolphins.

They also committed to improve the surveillance systems that help prohibit the hunting of these mammals.

The meeting was organized by Humane Society International and included experts in marine mammals, non-governmental organizations and universities.

Humane Society International is one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world. For more than 20 years, it has worked for the protection of all animals through the use of science, lobbying, education and field programs.

The participants discussed the status of scientific research, threats to cetacean populations, public policies, funding and education to assist government agencies in making decisions about the protection of cetaceans in Costa Rica.

"We seek to maintain Costa Rica's leadership in these issues, setting the line in the conservation of whales and dolphins and their important role in marine ecosystems, and highlighting guidelines on how activities such as whale and dolphin watching can be carried out responsibly," said Grettel Delgadillo, Deputy Director of HSI / Latin America.

In Costa Rica, there are three institutions that are responsible for ensuring the protection of whales and dolphins. They are the Vice Ministry of Water and Mares, the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) and the Ministry of the Environment.


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National Library archive courtesy photo        
 
The Whales and Dolphins Festival, which takes place every year in September during the high season of sighting which coincides with the migration season in the National Park.



These three organizations establish public policies for the conservation of cetaceans. They also coordinate with the tourism industry in coastal areas in activities such as the Whales and Dolphins Festival, which takes place every year in September during the high season of sighting which coincides with the migration season in the National Marine Park Whale, one of the most visited beaches.

Commercial hunting, climate change and pollution of the oceans threaten the future survival of whales, dolphins and porpoises.



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Published Friday, August 17, 2018 - Third news page
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Trade winds: Sailcargo blends old
and new in sailing freight venture
 

By Chris Lo


In a Costa Rican ‘jungle shipyard’, a small but ambitious team is building Ceiba, a combustion-free cargo sailing vessel that aims to combine old-world ship building techniques with avant-garde energy and propulsion systems design. Sailcargo managing director Danielle Doggett discusses the challenges and opportunities presented by the project.

As marine emissions continue to move up the global environmental agenda and the shipping industry works to identify suitable lower-emission fuels for the future, the commercial shipping industry is ripe for alternatives. Liquefied natural gas and other fuel options are gaining traction for Triple-E container ships and other massive cargo vessels, but on the more artisanal end of the shipping spectrum, a radical alternative is doing away with emissions entirely.

The last few years have given rise to a number of small companies looking to resurrect sailing cargo vessels for the 21st century. From the Schooner Apollonia project along the Hudson River to Fairtransport’s brigantine ‘Tres Hombres,’ which shuttles transatlantic cargo between Europe and the Caribbean, sailing cargo start-ups are building a zero-carbon community and leveraging the bygone skills of traditional shipbuilding.

It was working on the ‘Tres Hombres’ that galvanized the core leadership team of Sailcargo, a start-up that is currently hard at work at a ‘jungle shipyard’ in Costa Rica building Ceiba, a square sail/schooner hybrid that, once complete in 2021, will be one of the largest sailing cargo vessels of its kind. Sailcargo, which got its first finance boost through a successful $30,000 Kickstarter campaign, plans to use ‘Ceiba’ to ship cacao and coffee from Costa Rica to Vancouver, Canada and other Pacific ports along the way. The ship’s sails will be supported by a 100% electric engine and solar batteries to provide auxiliary power.

Emissions-free cargo transport is an idea that sells itself, but it doesn’t guarantee success – with the bigger-is-better economics of the modern shipping industry, is there a profitable place in the market for a true zero-emissions alternative like ‘Ceiba?’ Sailcargo managing director Danielle Doggett thinks so; here she outlines why.

“Costa Rica is one of the best places in the world to do a project like this. They operate 99% emission-free for their national power, and they have a lot of legislation in place that supports environmentally active thought. Right now they’re working on a nationwide electric car set-up, and they’ve just cut all import taxes for electric vehicles to zero. Also, here we’re required to get an environmental permit for every single tree we cut, which ensures everything is being done with the best practices possible in terms of selective forestry,” said Danielle Doggett.


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A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo              

The last few years have given rise to a number of small companies looking to resurrect sailing cargo vessels for
the 21st century.

 
The community’s been supportive, they‘ve had volunteers when they need them. But it has been a whole year of focusing 100% of them efforts on building up this shipyard from scratch. They had to run everything through solar power installed; and to put the poles in for the internet and phone line. It was really starting from the ground up. Building the shipyard hangar has been the biggest challenge.

“I definitely think ‘Ceiba’ has a place in the marine sector. Obviously it’s not competing directly with the largest Triple-E ships, but we’re going to offer a liner service from Costa Rica to Canada, stopping at several places in between,” Said Danielle Doggett.

The ship is specifically designed to sail this route, with the specific cargo density of approximately two cubic meter to the ton. So that’s looking at things like coffee and cacao, and other things around the weight of barley. They can bring things like coffee and cacao from Costa Rica up to the markets in Vancouver and Seattle, and then carry down the barley and other products.


Editor’s note: Chris Lo published his article at Shipping Technology Magazine



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Published Friday, August 17, 2018 -  Fourth news page


Costa Rica to measure mental health
damage caused by Storm Nate
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By Sebastian Rodriguez

When tropical storm Nate hit Costa Rica in 2017, it lashed the Central American nation for three days. Nearly a year later, memories of the storm are still fresh for many, including for Marielos Alvarado.

She is one of thousands of residents of Corralillo, a municipality in country’s northwestern Guanacaste region, who spent those anxious days in a shelter.

“On an emotional level it was very stressful. It took a lot for me to overcome certain things,” she said.

Nate killed 11 people in Costa Rica, caused landslides and some of the most damaging flooding in the country’s history. Some communities trapped by the storm ran out of drinking water and food, and electricity failed.

Such disasters often cause mental health issues in those affected, said Jose Francisco Aleman, Corralillo’s emergency coordinator.

But that aspect is regularly overlooked in disaster response efforts, he said, although tackling it is vital to help communities recover.

“When the emergency happens, people are in despair for help, scared of illness, desperate for food, etc. In the end, these issues, such as food and shelter, are taken care of, but the psychological effect is not,” he said.

For Alvarado, the flooding brought by Nate meant her family and others ran out of drinking water and food while waiting for help.

“I still can’t get the elderly or children vomiting from hunger out of my head,” she said.

Nate’s intensity, she added, was unprecedented.

“Nobody expected the emergency to be of such magnitude,” said Alvarado, who also heads the local disaster committee.

More than nine houses out of 10 in Corralillo were damaged, she said, including her own. When she finally arrived home, more than two weeks after the storm only, the walls of her home were left.

“It was shocking,” she said.

Nate brought significant destruction to Costa Rica: more than $385 million in damage as well as the deaths, according to data from the National Emergency Commission.

But some experts now think damage assessments should go beyond financial losses and include things like impacts on mental health.

A study published last year in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, for example, said “recovery efforts must consider the long-term effects of hurricane exposure on mental health.”

The Ministry of Environment has said Costa Rica is working to measure those effects, and how best to combat the damage to mental health as climate change brings stronger storms and other extreme weather.

Costa Rica’s National Adaptation Plan, its core plan to deal with climate change pressures, will be published later this year, and will feature mental health prominently, officials said.

But, the ministry said, the adaptation plan would look only to teach municipalities how to spot mental health vulnerabilities. tackling them would remain the responsibility of local governments, the ministry said.

Gabriela Mora, a psychologist at the University of Costa Rica, said the plan was a good start but more is needed, including clarity on how the government will work with local authorities to cut the risks and implement better mental health programs.

And it’s not just the direct psychological impact of a disaster that needs to be considered, with many communities needing a broader level of support, said Mora, who is also the coordinator for the Psychosocial Brigade, a group of psychologists who provide help to those who have experienced a disaster.

That includes finding ways to reduce a community’s vulnerability to future events, and encouraging people to meet and talk openly about their experiences, she said.

Corralillo is one example, Alvarado said. The community lies on what used to be a wetland and is surrounded by two rivers, the Las Palmas and the Tempisque. Access is difficult, there are few jobs, and there is a lack of emergency planning, she said.

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Nate081718.jpg
National Emergencies Commission courtesy  photo       

Nate killed 11 people in Costa Rica, caused landslides and some of the most damaging flooding in the country’s history.


Even though Corralillo had experienced three significant floods last year prior to Nate, the impact of that storm was far beyond what people were prepared for, Alvarado said.

As part of its efforts to deal with Nate’s aftermath, the community held a series of workshops with Mora’s department to discuss what had happened, and to train their neighbors on risk prevention.

Alvarado said the workshops attracted more people than expected, and allowed residents to talk about what had happened and learn lessons.
 
“That shows that the community is waking up,” she said.

One key aspect of the work is helping people not just work through the damage but find ways to try to cut their risks and feel more security in the future, Mora said.

“The idea is not to remember it as ‘the event that hurt me’ but, rather, to observe how we have to improve from an event that has already happened,” Mora said.

The region’s vulnerabilities extend beyond physical aspects, such as the adjacent rivers, Mora said. In Corralillo, job insecurity is a key issue.

“Here they only have sugarcane around them, and the period when they grow cane is very short. After that, they are out of work,” Mora said.

Marco Carranza, a workshop organizer, said disaster-affected communities need to ask local authorities for help in order to be considered for it.

The local authority then writes a report listing the damage the community suffered: deaths, injuries and material losses, as well as, in theory, the community’s assessment of the mental health impact.

That report gets sent to central government, which examines it and allocates funds.

But, Carranza said, communities are often not aware that they can include mental health losses, and many do not know recognize them as a problem until much later, when it is too late to request help.

Marianela Rojas, a member of the Psychosocial Support Technical Advisory Committee, the National Emergency Commission’s main source of support for community mental health, said communities need to be trained to ask for such assistance.

But even those communities that do request and get help have may struggle, Carranza said, not the least because measuring damage to mental health is inherently difficult.

Rojas said the National Emergency Commission was working on ways to calculate the impact of disasters on mental health. The country’s climate change plan also will require every municipality to have mental health and risk programs in place by 2030.

Factoring in mental health considerations is essential in helping communities deal with the impacts of climate change, Rojas said.

Failing to do so, she added, could mean its invisible effects will “end up generating a very high cost to the state.”

Editor’s note: Sebastian Rodriguez, writes on Thomson Reuters Foundation.


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Published Friday, August 17, 2018 -  Fifth news page

AmCham presents study of illegal trade in Costa Rica

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican-North America Chamber of Commerce, known as AmCham, presented a study of Costa Rica’s fight against illegal trade.

The presentation was made by a panel of experts moderated by Gerardo Lizano of the Mixed Commission of Fight against Illicit Trade of the American Chamber of Commerce, and AmCham, as well as the specialists such as Nogui Acosta, vice minister of revenue, Ministry of Finance, Irene Mia Global, editorial director of The Economist Intelligence Unit and Jeff Hardy, general director  of the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade.

Costa Rica shows few improvements in the fight against illicit trade, revealed the Global Environment Index, released by the Costa Rican Chamber of Commerce.

At present, Costa Rica is ranked 46th out of 84 countries.

The worst note is in transparency and trade, the document said, since the nation is vulnerable due to the geographic proximity of free zones to areas where there is greater transfer of merchandise in other economies.

Elías Soley, president of AmCham, said that the results are certainly not encouraging for the country.


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A.M. Costa Rica archive photo       

Elías Soley, president of AmCham.

Costa Rican authorities do prevent the smuggling of more than $100 million a year in just cigarettes and liquors, but customs falls short of what it could be doing as the percentage of merchandise reviewed is low, the index said.

More details about the index will be published next week.




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Costa Rica: Remarkable Tales from Our Super Vacation Spot
By the staff and contributors at A.M. Costa Rica & James J. Brodell
A.M. Costa Rica celebrates its 16th anniversary with a compilation of classic news reports geared to the needs of foreigners living here and those elsewhere with personal or business interests in this vacation paradise.
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New World Meditation: Focusing Mindfulness Healing Awakening
By Lucinda Gray Ph.D.
You will be Free to Live, Love, Work and Play in the Full Creative Expression of Your Authentic Self. New World Meditation is easy to learn, easy to practice, and profoundly transformational.
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Bohemian Road Trip
By Paul Furlong
"Makin' it Real--a Road Trip," is basically three themes running concurrently: A motorcycle racer who betrays himself by quitting... who looks at his watch one day... and realizes he's thirty now... and if he was going to be a star, he would be by now. So he quits racing and takes a year long trip to see who else might be in his reflection.
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Writing a will ? Expecting an inheritance?
Most estate planning books focus on legal formalities. Pa$$ing On: What’s Fair in Family Inheritance? delves deeper, helping you avoid emotional minefields and create a will that’s fair to your survivors. Former Costa Rica resident Ruth Dixon-Mueller, Ph.D. brings a unique perspective to bear on inheritance practices in the United States. Published Sept. 2017; $14.00 plus shipping at Amazon. Click Here

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Trapped In The Damas Cave, Costa Rica
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The Dark Side of Pura Vida: Murder, Betrayal, Abduction and Revenge in the Vacation Paradise
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Make gifts from dollars or colones
Running out of gift ideas? Author Dusty Pilot has just released easy to follow, step-by-step instructions for turning bills (dollars or colones) of any denomination into unique gifts such as flowers: roses, daffodils, daisies and poinsettias; shirts and blouses, and birds with flapping wings. Preview or purchase at Amazon. Click Here

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The Trouble with Cash
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Greg and Liz must sell their property in Costa Rica to finance their retirement. They receive an offer for their full asking price of $1million, but it comes with one condition... the payment is to be in cash. They go for it. Things go wrong. The money is stolen.The local police are no help so Greg devises his own plan to get their money back. Buy the book on Amazon. Click Here
....


Published Friday, August 17
, 2018 -  Sixth news page

Cell phones in prisons to be blocked

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Carlos Alvarado, the minister of Justice and Peace, Marcia González, and the minister of Science, Technology and Telecommunications, Luis Adrián Salazar, signed the Law 9597 Thursday.

The law allows prison cell phone signals to be blocked.

This is an important advance in terms of security for combating the scams that are committed from prisons, officials have said.

According to data from the Judicial Investigating Organization, from 2014 to 2016, 967 scams originated from prisons even though the officers at the penitentiaries had increased procedures to confiscate cell phones from prisoners.

In 2016, they seized 3,589 devices up from 3,268 in 2015.

"We face new challenges to fight the new illegal activities, but we are responding with new tools, with decisive actions and the participation of all sectors of society. This law that we sign today is an example of this will," said Alvarado.

The solutions must be provided within nine months.


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Casa Presidencial courtesy photo     

The law was approved after two years in the legislature.

The project obliges network operators and telecommunications service providers to adopt and apply technological solutions to prevent the provision of wireless telecommunications services within penitentiary centers.



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Real Estate For Sale
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Jaco Oceanfront Furnished Condo
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Colinas Del Sol
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Fenced Gated Parcels for Sale
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Business For Sale
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Versatile 2 Floors Building
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Completely remodeled building. 14 areas for residence and/or offices, call center, upscale storage. Transportation within 50 meters, commuter train, buses and taxis. In La Sabana, San Jose. School, park, gymnasium, tennis club and National soccer stadium walking distance. 24-hour security, many restaurants, clubs and social facilities nearby. Approximately 323 meter construction. Asking $295,000.
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Three Cabins in La Fortuna
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In La Fortuna San Carlos. Price $145,000 USD
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Published  Friday, August 17, 2018 -  Seventh news page

U.S. citizen drowned in Osa beach

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

Yesterday, the agents of the Judicial Investigation Agency in Puntarenas captured a 27-year-old man, who is suspected of sharing child pornography.

The investigation into the case began a few months ago, and according to the preliminary report, it appears that a girl under 13 years old, added a link someone had sent her to her cell phone.

The victim only noticed that his personal data had disappeared a few hours later.

Apparently, the child had her private photos stored on her cell phone.

The investigators of the Section of Computer Crimes initiated the investigation into the case, where it was determined that another person had accessed the phone remotely through the link, and apparently managed to steal some photos of the girl.

These images were later disseminated to other men through text.

The researchers managed to locate the equipment that was used for the dissemination of the images of the girl.

Thursday, the agents carried out the raid on the home of the suspect located in the Mar Azul Urbanization, as well as his workplace in Miramar, Puntarenas.

The man was arrested and the important evidence from which the photos, computers, hard drives and cell phones were sent was confiscated.


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Judicial Investigators Org.  courtesy photo       

The researchers managed to locate the equipment that
was used for the dissemination of the images of the girl.

  
 

Finally, the suspect was sent to the Public Ministry to formalize the complaint for dissemination of images of minors.

The case will continue in investigation.