An immigration officer is under internal investigation for allowing one of the 16 suspects in the jewellery store heists in Escazu earlier this week to leave the country.

Working in the background, immigration officials review every passenger leaving the country by way of the international airports. Pictured in the departures hall of the San Jose airport

The robberies took place on October 31, and, two days later, one of the suspects, a Mexican national, managed to leave Costa Rica by way of the Juan Santamaria (San Jose) international airport despite an alert against the person.

The interim director of immigration, Esteban Obando, said that this type of actions generates doubt and that one could think of a possible “corruption” in an institutional process.

“The institution is committed to this fight (against corruption); Therefore, systems such as Migración Visible give expected results. In this case, we will dig deep, and according to what the investigation reveals, to sanction accordingly,” Obando explained.

For now, immmigration authorities are not releasing the name of the 30-year-old official, nor that of the suspect, to maintain the integrity of the internal investigation and that of the Ministerio Publico in the case of the robberies.

Obando explained that the system detected the alert by judicial authorities and the (immigration) officer should have taken the suspect to a separate room for a secondary inspection and consultation, but the official omitted that step and allowed the Mexican to leave the country without problems.

The director said the internal review process will take days, during which the official, who has nine years of working for Migracion, has been ‘relocated to other functions’ and possible suspension.

The official may also face criminal charges for apparent breach of duties and responsibility.


Stay up to date with the latest stories by signing up to our newsletter, or following us on Facebook.