Q COSTA RICA – Are you a bad guy? Living in Costa Rica? You’re out of here. Thinking of living in Costa Rica? Thing again. That is the scenario promised by the government of Luis Guillermo Solis on Wednesday.
In a lockdown meeting of high ranking police and government officials at Casa Presidencial Wednesday, the government has promised to expel from Costa Rica those foreigners who could represent a risk to national security.
Gustavo Mata, the minister of Security, explained: “These are extraordinary situations that are going to take place for the well being of our citizens, and it must be clear that we could fail, even the Constitutional Court can tell us that we are wrong, but that we have to do it and we will do, it will be done”.
The call comes days after shootout in Guachipelin de Escazu, where two men were killed and a six-year-old boy seriously injured, when unknown gunmen opened fire on an alleged Lebanese mafia kingpin, as he was dropping off his young daughter at a private school.
Hours after the incident, the brother of one of the victims in the shootout was detained at the Juan Santamaria (San Jose) international airport, attempting to leave the country.
What we learned since is that the two brothers, Elias and Zaid Akl, were really bad guys, wanted by the Canadian police, in the Costa Rica illegally, and allegedly involved in drug trafficking and other nasty business.
The slap on the face for Costa Ricans is that, as we learned after the fact, authorities knew of these two ‘criminals’ but did or could not do anything about it.
Mariano Figueres, head of Costa Rica’s intelligence service – Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad Nacional (DIS), told the media that, in January, he made his report to police authorities of the presence of these two and he had recommended they be expelled from the country. However, nothing was done.
Minister Mata denied knowing anything about the report.
In another report made public Wednesday, the Organismo de Investigacion Judicial (OIJ) says a judge denied them a wire tapping request, admitting the had they sights on the Akl brothers, yet…
Plan of action
According to Mata, in the next 30 days we can expect to have ‘procedures in place’ to expedite the expulsion of foreigners, was well as a list of foreigners who may represent a danger and merit being sent back to their country of origin.
But it doesn’t stop there.
The Minister indicated that they will also be taking actions to prohibit the entrance to the country of foreigners with a criminal history, as was done on February 9 of this year, where Daniel Fowlie, convicted of drug trafficking in his native United States, was denied entrance to Costa Rica.
At the immigration service
For her part, the Director of Immigration, Gisela Yockchen, explained that this type of expulsion is something that has not been done, despite the fact that Article 168 of the Ley de Migración y Extranjería – Costa Rica’s immigration law – allows it.
“At some point we have expelled those who have merited it, but the law clearly indicates that it can be done to anyone with a dangerous or unwanted profile, that with their actions compromise peace and public order”, said the immigration official.
According to Yockchen, the immigration service will work together, in coordination with the various police forces.
Without being specific, the immigration director noted that people carrying drugs, weapons without permits, involved in dangerous activities, with behaviors not according to the peaceful nature of the country, people accompanied by bodyguards and alter public order are candidates for possible expulsion.
Yockchen also denied the recommendations made by the DIS.
Minister Mata added that other strategies to be used by authorities to strengthen the fight against organized crime in the country will include roadblocks (retenes in Spanish), intensified operations by the Special Forces unit and coordination with foreign authorities such as the Netherlands and France to assist in the fight against drug trafficking in the Caribbean.
“We are seizing five guns per day in the country,” said Mata.
On Wednesday, the government introduced the 650 new police officers that will soon be on the streets.