From the “that can’t be but true” department in the land of Pura Vida, the three “chuzos” donated by the United States to fight crime in Costa Rica hit a roadblock, the Riteve inspection.

In a report by La Teja, the three specialized vehicles for use by Costa Rica’s police forces did not pass the vehicular inspection. The news was confirmed by Jennifer Hidalgo, Riteve press officer.

Photo: Courtesy Riteve

“At Riteve we took to inspecting these vehicles, which, like all (vehicles) to comply with the technical vehicle inspection requirements,” said Hidalgo, who was light on the details of the result of the inspection, given that “by law we can only provide that information to the owners of the vehicles”.

Although the official test results were not available, La Teja said it was able to find out by “other means”: the vehicles failed the inspection for the following reasons:

  • The first was the exhaust, since none has a silencer, though silencers are not required because the vehicle’s exhaust system does not make excessive noise.
  • The second, the vehicles have an electro-welded mesh that blocks the muffler exhaust (tailpipe). The mesh makes it impossible to insert the probe into the tailpipe to measure the gases by Riteve inspectors. However, the mesh is installed for a specific reason. Given they are used in conflictive situations, the mesh prevents a blockage of the exhaust, which could cause the vehicle to stall or not start. We all know that stuffing a potato or banana up the tailpipe pipe causes restriction of a vehicle exhaust that can incapacitate it.
  • And finally (the third), the vehicles do not have retroreflective devices (reflectors). Whoa, stealth gives the vehicles an advantage in a tactical situation.

The three vehicles were donated last month by the U.S. Embassy in San Jose; one destined for use by the Fuerza Publica (National Police), the second by the Organismo de Investigacion Judicial (OIJ) and the third by the Unidad Especial de Intervención (UEI) – the S.W.A.T. unit. However, none have been able to count on their use.

So, who can make sure that the “chuzos” take to the streets?

Photo: Courtesy Riteve

According to the U.S. Embassy, it’s not their problem. La Teja says it contacted the Embassy, who washed their hands of the situation, saying it’s not up to them to what happens now.

“The United States Embassy donated the three armed vehicles to the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública, the Organismo de Investigación Judicial y la Unidad Especial de Intervención two weeks ago with the purpose of providing these police forces with new tools to keep the communities safe. Any question about the vehicles must be formulated before the police bodies that received them,” informed the press department of the Embassy.

The Cosevi, the branch of the Ministry of Transport that regulated the vehicular inspection?

“Given that they are vehicles that require modifications for their use, each state institution that will receive them must send a note to the Executive Directorate of Cosevi, requesting authorization for them to be inspected under these conditions based on their use. They must include, in addition to their VIN, all the attachments they have for the purpose of being assessed by the board of directors for authorization,” said Ronald Ramírez, spokesperson for Cosevi.

La Teja said it was able to contact two of the three institutions to learn if they had followed the Cosevi guideline, the OIJ did not respond the calls.

The three modified vehicles are based on the Ford Nemesis, weighing almost 9 tons each and can carry 13 people. They are four-wheel drive, equipped with special external lights, infrared cameras, a navigation system, armored glass, sirens, intercoms and run-flat tires, among other features. Each is valued at US$208,000 dollars.

The three are in addition to “The dcBeast“, a modified Ford F-350, dressed in black and fully armored vehicle used by the OIJ in tactical situations since 2015.


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