The multi-million dollar fraud case that rocked the media and Costa Rica has both top suspects returning to jail.
- Vilma Curling women's prison photo -

Published on Tuesday, July 20, 2021

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The multi-million dollar fraud case that rocked the media and Costa Rica has both top suspects returning to jail.

The Treasury Criminal Court accepted the appeal on the pre-trial measures imposed on a woman surnamed Solís and a man surnamed Cerdas, according to the Deputy Prosecutor for Probity, Transparency and Anticorruption. Both suspects were part of the most mediatic local news about a millionaire fraud case, known as Cochinilla.

Agents of the Judicial Investigation Organization used the name Cochinilla in the investigation, which is the cochineal insect (Dactylopius coccus) native to tropical and subtropical countries. According to estimates by the agents, allegedly the fraud case could be valued up to 78 billion colones, about $126 million of embezzled funds.

The accepted appeal revokes the measures ordered by the judge in June and ordered both suspects to serve pre-trial jail for four months.

The bail for both suspects that was set at over $8 million and paid, as a condition to continue being linked to the case without being in jail, will be returned to both defendants.

Cerdas was taken to the cells of the Judicial Investigation Organization until a space opens for him at any jail. Solís was taken to cells at the Vilma Curling women's prison on Monday.

In June the Prosecutor's Office asked the judge to order one year of preventive detention for 14 of the suspects investigated. However, none of the suspects received that measure.
Due to this result, the Prosecutor's Office reported that they have requested a date to hold an appeal hearing to reiterate the request for preventive detention against 14 of the suspects.

These suspects  received   pre-trial measures such as an impediment to leaving the country, signing an attendance note, and suspension from duties (in the case of public employees) during the investigation.

The Public Ministry had asked the judges for a year of preventive detention against 12 of the 30 suspects in the case due to the risk of fleeing the country or interference in the investigation.

The 12 main suspects are identified with the surnames  Solís, González, Fallas, Bolaños, Herrera, Martínez, Arce, Madrigal, Cervantes, Carmona, Mora and Abarca.

Another group of 16 suspects linked to the case are mostly public employees of the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation, surnamed Sánchez-Castro, Ureña-Villalobos, Castro-Rodríguez, Bonilla-Guillén, Rojas-Monge, Chaves-Mora, Cantillano, Zamora, Rodríguez- Araya, Rivera-Campo, Quesada-Pérez, Ortiz-Vega, Lobo-Bejarano, Monge-Hernández, Quesada-Aguirre, Solís-Vargas.

Amid the scandal, the General Attorney, Emilia Navas, announced her retirement, a couple of days after she resigned to exercise her functions with this particular case because her partner is one of the defense attorneys of the suspects.

The case continues under investigation by the Prosecutor Office of an alleged criminal organization fraud against the government.

How could this alleged multi-million dollar corruption scandal impact Costa Rica's image?
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