Costa Rica managed, despite the projections, to reduce the number of homicides reported in 2018. Although the numbers are still high, there hasn’t been a year-to-year decline since 2012.

At noon on December 31, the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) reported 585 homicides for the year, an amount below the 603 homicides in 2017 and far from the 625 projected by the OIJ in the first half of the year.

However, for the second half of the year, there was a decrease in cases.

According to the Ministro de Seguridad Publica (Security Minister), Michael Soto, the decline in the number of homicides is linked to the dismantling of the most violent drug trafficking groups in the country, particularly in the Caribbean province of Limon and in San Jose.

Among the most striking cases that stand out the arrest of the El Gringo, El Tío and The Lara criminal gangs.

Also, in 2018, under the direction of Michael Soto, with a 26 year career at the OIJ, “megaoperativos” (mega police operations) across the country focused on seizing weapons and curbing criminality contributed to the decline.

Soto explained in mid-December that there was a marked decrease in cases related to ‘settling of scores’ among rival gangs.

The minister acknowledged, however, that this year there was an increase especially in ‘riñas’, that is disputes that turned violent, which reveals a violent society.

Homicides in Costa Rica from 2009 to 2018

A difficult year

Despite the fact that the numbers can be considered positive, Soto said that 2018 was quite difficult. This especially for the death of three tourists – María Trinidad (Mexico) in Santa Teresa, Aranxta Gutiérrez (Spain) in Tortuguero and Carla Stefaniak (US) in Escazu – whose cases made headlines around the world, causing outrage both at home and abroad.

In addition, the Security chief regretted the number of femicide, manifestations based on xenophobia and the ‘considerable increase’ in the number of assailants killed by their victims while committing a crime.