Syrian woman (covered) using false passport to enter Costa Rica was captured on Thursday, allegedly hiding out in a downtown San Jose hotel. Photo Albert Marin, La Nacion
Syrian woman (covered) using false passport to enter Costa Rica was captured on Thursday, allegedly hiding out in a downtown San Jose hotel. Photo Albert Marin, La Nacion

QCOSTARICA – The big question around the water cooler this morning is, what happened, how did the Syrian woman using a false passport enter Costa Rica?

On Thursday we learned that the Dirección de Migración y Extranjería – Costa Rica’s immigration service, allowed the entry of theSyrian woman this past Tuesday despite a warning by the International Police (Interpol) that the passport had been reported stolen.

According to Interpol  the alert went out three weeks ago, after the Greek national reported the theft.

The Syrian woman was arrested Thursday morning, in a downtown San Jose hotel (the hotel name has not been made public) where she is believed to have been in hiding after arrival to the country on Tuesday.

The discovery of the woman’s arrival was known only after the arrest of five Syrian’s in Honduras, also travelling with false identification (also Greek passports) and who had visited Costa Rica for six days prior.

All six (the five men and woman) arrived at the Juan Santamaria (San Jose) airport on a flight from Argentina (with a stop in Peru), from Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon. Authorities believe their intention was to reach the United States.

Celso Gamboa, the deputy minister of Security, said the entry of the Syrian woman was due to “unfortunate omissions of an immigration officer”.

“When entering the country, the passport is scanned at the immigration post. This verifies that all is well with the document and the person carrying it; that step was omitted this time and we will be determining if there was any criminal intention on the part of the official,” said Gamboa.

The director of immigration, Kathya Rodriguez, told La Nacion Thursday night she was not aware of the deputy minister’s accusations. She explained that the official, whose identity she would not reveal, did in fact scan the document, for if he/she had not done so, there would be no migratory record.

The director acknowledged that, apparently, the official did omit to alert the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) after learning that the passport was fake.

“We are checking to see whether or not the call was made to the OIJ. I have the name of the official and the time when the Syrian entered. What we need is to understand why the relevant action was not taken,” said Rodriguez.

For his part, the interim director of the OIJ, Gerald Campos, confirmed that the Interpol notice was received before the November 11, when the Syrians arrived at the San Jose airport.

Campos suspects a deactivation of the (alert) device and will be focusing their investigation in this direction.

The OIJ official explained that when Interpol detects an anomaly, ie. a stolen passport, it notifies the different countries. The alert is identified when the passport passes through the reader to check the document’s authenticity. If a problem is detected, local authorities take action and Interpol is automatically notified.

One of the five Syrians captured in Honduras, on arrival in that country, after spending six days of freedom in Costa Rica
One of the five Syrians captured in Honduras, on arrival in that country, after spending six days of freedom in Costa Rica. The Syrians had used fake Greek passports and travelling under the names: Charalampos Kyrimopoulos, Alexandros Tzempelikos, Vasileios Bouzas, Konstantinos Marinakis and Anastasios Bellios.

This would mean that the Syrians would have been detained in Costa Rica on November 11 and not in Honduras, six days later, in Costa Rica for all this time. The alert would have also meant the arrest of the Syrian woman on her arrival on November 17.

Meanwhile, the Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad (DIS) – Costa Rica’s intelligence service, is being quiet on the subject.

Director Mariano Figueres said on Tuesday he would not comment on an ongoing investigation. On Thursday, on the radio program, Nuestra Voz, Figueres assured there was no error on the part of the DIS.

Figueres is blaming Interpol. He said the responsibility is on Interpol to give Costa Rican authorities notice, and it did not do so.