ARCHIVE Published Wednesday, September 5, 2018 - First news page


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29 arrested in human trafficking case

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

A special operation Tuesday by the immigration police, judicial agents, the deputy prosecutor for trafficking and the National Police of Panama, dismantled a criminal organization dedicated to the human trafficking, officials reported.

The operation, called Sky and Earth, was a joint effort between Costa Rica and Panamanian agencies. The investigation began in 2016 and lasted for two years allowing the officials "to dismantle a criminal organization of 40 people who were engaged in trafficking people,” said Water Espinoza, director of the Judicial Investigating Organization. "This criminal group had links in Asia, Europe and South America", he added.

The investigation culminated in a final operation that resulted in 41 raids and the arrest of 29 people in various parts of the country.

Among those who were apprehended are 10 people working in the immigration police and one person who is an officer of the Public Force.

The organization specialized in trafficking of persons of Indian and Chinese nationalities, officials said.

“The criminal group have been trafficking  about 110 people, among these 3 minors" informed Emilia Navas, the attorney general.

The investigation revealed that this was a transnational organization which operated not only in Costa Rica, but also in Panama, according to official reports.

Simultaneous raids allowed the authorities to dismantle the criminal group that operated in that country, they said.

"We contacted the border police in Panama so that they could carry out the investigations and the raids and detentions in that country" said Espinoza.

The Panamanian authorities executed 20 raids and apprehended 10 people accused of being in the criminal organization.

In Panama, an officer of the National Border Service was detained. In addition to belonging to the organization that trafficked people between Costa Rica and Panama, he was also linked to drug trafficking activities and was found with 20 kilograms of cocaine during his arrest, law enforcement there said.

According to the police report, the modus operandi of the criminal structure consisted of coordinating the transfer of people from China or India by air to Europe.

The people were later taken to South America, specifically Ecuador, Colombia and Peru then moved to Panama so they could enter Costa Rica, said officials. All this was carried out with the  complicity of immigration officials, they added.

“This work shows that we are fighting against corruption. We are going to clean the house. We will not allow this type of crime. The human being is not for sale," said Raquel Vargas, director of Immigration.

"While the investigation was underway, we could not fire or accuse the officials involved, some of whom had been working for the institution for 11 years, and they needed to continue working without knowing they were being investigated," added Vargas.

In Costa Rica, the procedures and requirements required by law for migrants were omitted, allowing them to enter the country illegally, according to the official allegations.

Some of these people were transferred for labor exploitation in the country, while others were trafficked to Panama where they were also victims of human trafficking or used that country as a bridge to reach the United States or Canada, they said.

"Once in the territory the people had two destinations, some stayed in the country, while others were sent to the United States or Canada where they possibly continued with unpaid forced labor," said Espinoza.

The investigation disclosed that the criminal organization had three leaders of Chinese origin living in Costa Rica, one of them owner of a restaurant located in Sabana Norte in San José, said officials.



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Judicial Investigation Organization courtesy photo
 
The criminal organization have been trafficking
 about 110 people, among these 3 minors.



In addition to the two men of Chinese nationality, there are two foreigners of Peruvian nationality who  were accused of being in charge of the transfer of the victims.

This was a lucrative activity for these people, since each victim had to pay between $25,000 and $45,000 just to be able to enter Costa Rica with false documentation that the criminal organization, through their links abroad, provided them, officials said.

Once in the country, the victims were distributed as laborers in businesses managed by Asians who bought these people to work in different parts of the country, said the investigators. Failing that, they were transferred by special order to the border with Panama, where they were handed over to other members of the organization who were responsible for bringing them into Panamanian territory. The officials said. The migrants were either kept them in that country or sent to North America, according to a summary of the case.

Michael Soto, minister of Security, said that the victims established a debt when they were smuggled into the country and that the debt could take many years to pay off. “It is a form of modern slavery," Soto said.

The people who were trafficked into Panama were lodged in hotels in the Metropolitan Area or in the vicinity of the Juan Santamaría International Airport once they entered Costa Rica, investigators said, adding that  they later were transferred to Panama in personal vehicles or taxis.

"In Costa Rica they operated another structure that was made up of people who worked at the Juan Santamaria Airport. They received the people who entered the country illegally with false documents.  These people who received them passed the immigration requirements and allowed them to leave the airport. There was another group that transferred the people from the airport to two places, a hotel in Heredia or a restaurant in the Sabana. In these places the leaders established the fate of the people who were trafficked,” said Espinoza.
 
Members of the Professional Migration Police were paid according to their participation in the organization, and that pay depended on their status, officials said. If the person was directly involved in the organization, he or she was paid between $4,000 and $6,000 per person. Other officers of lower status were only paid $2,000 to $4,000 for each person allowed to enter the country illegally, they added.

"There are also other people who gave logistical support to the criminal organization, such as transfers, obtaining false documents and providing data related to the work that Peruvians would do in the country, and in that area, they had the support of a lawyer with the surname Asofeifa, who was also arrested. This lawyer presented false documents to immigration in order to achieve legalization of the immigration status of these people," added Espinoza.

"They are vulnerable people, with economic problems in their countries, who are hungry, who are sick and who are forced to do what they are doing. The criminal group takes advantage of this vulnerability of the people and exploits them. They are victims," said Emilia Navas, the attorney general.



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Published Wednesday, September 5, 2018 - Second news page
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Government asks Uber to stop national operations

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican government again urged the Uber company to abandon its ride service operation in the country until the revision or modernization of the legal framework regarding the transport of people is defined.

The company rejected the request.

The government council determined Tuesday that Uber must stop the operations until there is a law that allows the regulation of this private transport service.

The council took the request of taxi drivers into consideration in its deliberations.

The record published by the government says:

"The Uber Company and other companies that operate technology platforms in the provision of public transport service are urged to abandon their operation until the revision or modernization of the existing legal field of paid transport of persons is defined"

The document was issued by the Presidency in response to the demands of the group of taxi drivers to take action against the collaborative transport application.

The document reiterates that unregulated technological platforms provide an illegal service, while reiterating the creation of a Mixed Taxi Commission to analyze the issue of paid transport of people.

For its part, Uber has sent a statement that says it will continue with the activity.



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A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo        
 
Uber is still operating normally,
the company press release said.


“Uber is still operating normally. Since our first day of operations, we have always been working within a legal framework and looking to be part of Costa Rica's development. We support the interest and initiative that has been demonstrated in the Legislative Assembly to achieve an innovative regulation. We urge the government to listen to the multiple voices that cry for the existence of a regulation,” the press release said.



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Published Wednesday, September 5, 2018 - Third news page
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Poás Volcano received 1,550 guests in three days

By A.M. Costa Rica staff


About 1,550 people visited the facilities of the Poás Volcano National Park, located in Poás de Alajuela, in three days, according to the National System of Conservation Areas.

The park had remained closed for 16 months and now has a novel security system, unique in the Central American region, which has allowed it to reopen.

"The reopening of the colossus has been successful, given the increase in daily visitation recorded in the National Park, as well as the satisfaction of the public for the new security measures,” said the National Park press release.

“Just last Friday 200 tourists were received, on Saturday at 620, and on Sunday at 730. Visitation tends to increase as the public becomes familiar with the new ticket booking system," the statement said.

According to information from the National Emergency Commission, the security system includes clear evacuation routes and better management of the number of tourists entering the park.


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A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo       

It also includes shelters, protection devices and gas meters in real time to safeguard the visitors and employees in the event of an emergency.

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Published Wednesday, September 5, 2018 -  Fourth news page


Man who kills alleged thief will serve preventive prison

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

The prosecutor of Grecia obtained preventative detention at home to a foreign man, surnamed McCarthy, who is a resident in Costa Rica,.

In local Spanish-language media, McCarthy is identified as an U.S. citizen but this has not been confirmed by the authorities.

According to the police report, McCarthy was arrested Monday for suspected murder.

The report judicial investigators says that the events took place over the weekend in the town of Naranjo. McCarthy was driving his vehicle near Naranjo when his car had a flat tire. A man named Maramoros who was walking by offered him help to repair the vehicle.

While the two men were repairing the vehicle, McCarthy claims that Maramoros stole his cell phone. This made the foreigner furious and a fight broke out between the two men, investigators said..

A video is circulating on social networks, where viewers see the foreigner kicking and screaming at the man, who is lying on the street. The video may be upsetting to some viewers

It is alleged that Maramoros was beaten and kicked until he collapsed on the road. The man was taken to the hospital in Grecia but, due to the severity of the injuries, he was transferred to Hospital Mexico where he died due to a laceration of the liver and intra-abdominal hemorrhage.

According to the police report, the man had a history of aggravated robbery, homicide, theft, mistreatment and disobedience.

A press release from the Prosecutor's Office of Grecia said that preventive prison was ordered for McCarthy.



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A.M. Costa Rica wire services          
       
It is alleged that Maramoros was beaten and kicked
until he collapsed on the road.


"The Office of the Prosecutor of Grecia requested that preventive prison be imposed against a man with the last names McCarthy Vactor, who is a suspect of a crime of homicide, to the detriment of Carlos Andrés Matamoros González. Upon this request, the criminal court of the zone did not accept the request of the Prosecutor's Office and imposed as a precautionary measure the house arrest with electronic monitoring to which the Public Prosecutor's Office appealed the resolution and is now waiting for the appeal hearing to be announced," the statement said.

House arrest occurs in cases in which the accused has no criminal record. The case is still under investigation, and the Prosecutor's Office of Grecia is waiting for the response to the request for an appeal hearing to be filed by McCarthy’s lawyer.

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T
ax Accountant
Let’s discuss your tax situation.

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The IRS has become more aggressive and if you have not filed, you must do so. 

However, there are solutions to problems and your situation may be better than you think.

If your filing is not up to date, Streamlined Filing can be used with no penalties.
Including disclosure of foreign corporations to avoid serious problems.

If tax payment is holding you back, the IRS has options to solve payment problems.

You can file current or past due FBARs without payment to meet IRS  requirements.

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n
Specializing in all matters of concern to U.S. taxpayers residing abroad including:
n
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• Up-to-date FATCA news.
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• Business consulting to facilitate working in Costa Rica.
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E-mail jrtb_1999@yahoo.com




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  • Quarterly and Annual Payroll Tax Returns
  • Corporate Tax Returns
  • Tax Planning
  • Corporate Formation
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Published Wednesday, September 5, 2018 -  Fifth news page

Casas Vita owner to continue in preventive detention

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Criminal Court in San José confirmed three months of preventive detention for a man surnamed Villagra, who is the owner of the real estate company Casas Vita.

He is being investigated for alleged scams involving house sales.

Villagra was arrested Aug. 10 when he tried to take an international flight at the Juan Santamaría Airport in Alajuela.

The accused was arrested because the Public Ministry issued an immigration alert to warn the government if he tried to leave the country.

Chief Prosecutor Emilia Navas justified the action because there had been more complaints registered against Villagra.

Those complaints were compiled after several properties were raided May 22.

Prior to the raids in May there were 47 complaints, but a month later the number increased to 125.


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A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo       

Navas said that the subject was arrested because there was a risk that he would not return to the country.

"It's not just a problem of economic content, it also has to do with their life projects and with the right to have a decent home," said Navas of the assumed victims.



_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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Costa Rica: Remarkable Tales from Our Super Vacation Spot
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New World Meditation: Focusing Mindfulness Healing Awakening
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Published Wednesday, September 5
, 2018 -  Sixth news page

President Alvarado asks unions not to strike

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Carlos Alvarado expressed his willingness to meet and conduct a dialogue with the leaders of the national unions on the condition that the national strike called for Sept. 10 be halted.

The president assured the unions that the fiscal plan that is currently being discussed in the legislature is indispensable for the future of the country.

"It does not contemplate dismissals or salary cuts. It has necessary measures, and it has been done so that each person counts, both to be protected and to contribute to the future of the country,” said Alvarado.

"I ask you to understand, based on your responsibility as leaders of many of the groups that are at risk, the critical situation facing the country and the need for that project to advance," he added.

"Nobody wants galloping inflation, a real loss of wages or an increase in poverty and unemployment," he said.

The unions are organizing an indefinite strike starting next Monday.

At the moment, the negotiations between the unions and the government to put a hold on strike is deadlocked, partly because the unions demand the withdrawal of the fiscal plan from the legislative stream.



Strike090518.jpg
A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo     

The unions are organizing an indefinite strike
starting next Monday.



The plan calls for new taxes.

In preparation for a possible strike, public health sector workers said that as of Monday , the health centers will only attend what they consider emergencies.

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Published  Wednesday, September 5, 2018 -  Seventh news page

Campaign seeks to prevent childhood burns from fireworks

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

The National Children's Hospital and the Ministry of Public Education want to avoid burns in children during the national holidays.

In 2017 there were 332 cases of children burned or 27 per month. As of June this year, 268 injured children were reported. That is, about 45 per month.

In a press conference, a representative said that those with burns represent 6 percent of all hospitalized children.

Burns by candles or powder during the construction of the lantern and during the celebrations of Independence Day are the main causes of accidents.

The lantern are part of the tradition on the eve of Independence Day. Children make lanterns at home and light them later during a parade.

Cinthya Mora, head of the Reconstructive Surgery Service of the Children’s Hospital warned that burns can cause deep wounds and leave a child in serious condition. The paper lanterns are especially dangerous as they catch fire easily.

"History has changed in recent years, and we intend to establish or conduct health education campaigns to try to change the risk to which minors are subjected by the use of lanterns," said Carlos Jiménez, deputy director of the medical center.

Among the recommendations, authorities emphasize the use of LED lights and spotlights to avoid the use of lighters or candles.

  Faroles090518.jpg
A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo       

Independence Day is Sept. 15, and the parades with
elaborate lanterns take place the night before.



In addition, children should not manipulate explosive devices, such as flares or fireworks.

There also are bombetas, small devices that contain dynamite, used in celebrations, mainly in rural areas.