Friday 27 January 2023

Confidential Call Allowed Police To Catch “La Reina del Sur”

Cristel Yariella Gómez Espinoza was on the run since November 2018. She began to build her narco empire at the age of 19.

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27 January 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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A confidential call allowed police to capture Cristel Yariella Gómez Espinoza, known as “La Reina del Sur” (Queen of the South), on Tuesday morning.

Cristel Yariella Gómez Espinoza, known as “La Reina del Sur”. Photo OIJ

The 24-year-old woman, who had been on the run for nine months, was wanted as a suspect in being one of the main drug suppliers in the southern area of Costa Rica.

Her arrest was made in a shopping center in Palmar Norte de Osa, Puntarenas, by agents of the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ and the Fuerza Publica (National Police).

Cristel Yariella Gómez Espinoza, known as “La Reina del Sur” arriving at the San Jose courthouse after being flown from the southern zone. Photo OIJ
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Authorities believe Gomez worked with several narco organizations, among them the one directed by Erwin Guido Toruño, alias “El Gringo”.

Wálter Espinoza Espinoza, head of the OIJ, explained the confidential call that led to the arrest of Gomez was received at 10 am.

Gomez was flown to San Jose, where on Wednesday the Juzgado Penal del Primer Circuito Judicial de San José ordered to three months preventive detention (remand).

Photo OIJ

Gomez had an international arrest warrant for the crime for drug trafficking following a series of raids last November, dismantle the criminal led by Gringo, who was killed on December 16, 2017, stabbed 139 times.

In the November 2018 raids, 56 people were arrested, while Gomez avoided capture not being home at the time police raided her home in La Cuesta de Corredores.

After the death of the El Gringo (the capo) and the dismantling of his organization, Gómez became one of the most wanted fugitives in the country. It was even suspected that she may have been hiding in Panama, since she is originally from La Cuesta de Corredores, in Puntarenas, a few kilometers from the Panama border.

Life of Crime

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Cristel Yariella was born on January 5, 1995, who according to the Civil Registry is a mother of two, an eight and six year old.

At a very young age, at 14 years old, the young woman lived a dramatic moment in her life, after her father, Alberto Gómez Calderón, was kidnapped on April 6, 2009 by a criminal group of Colombians and Canadians who asked for US$2, 5 million (¢1,435 million at the exchange rate of the time) in exchange for his freedom.

Cristel Yariella Gómez Espinoza, known as La Reina del Sur, poses with Erwin Guido Toruño, aka the Gringo, killed in December 2017 by his enemies. Photo: Telenoticias

The elder Gomez was in captivity for five months and was released after a ransom of US$500,000 was paid.

This case is considered the longest kidnapping in the country and, in 2011, the group responsible for the events was sentenced to 27 years in prison.

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Her life of crime began at the tender age of 19 when she began to build her criminal empire.

Before joining the El Gringo gang, in 2015, Gomez was captured with two other men in San Isidro de El Guarco, Cartago, as suspected of transporting 15 kilos of heroin with 82% purity. Since then, she was known as the Queen of the South.

For that, in 2016, La Reina del Sur stool trial for drug trafficking and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Her defence team were able to obtain a retrial. In 2017 she acquitted.

During the investigation, authorities were able to connect her father to Marcos Antonio Zamora Solórzano, alias Indio, sentenced in 2015 to 70 years in prison for drug trafficking and murder.



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