QCOSTARICA – 2022 closed with 68 homicides more than in 2021. According to the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) – Judicial Investigation Agency, last year there were 656 murders.
This means that the country closed with a rate of 12.6 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, higher than the 11.4 of 2021 and new absolute record in the country, well above the 12.1 record in 2017.
Michael Soto, interim deputy director of the OIJ, explained that most of the cases, 62.0%, correspond to “ajuste de cuentas” (revenge) between drug gangs and a high percentage of the victims are men.
“It has been an extremely difficult year on the issue of homicides and violence. Between 56% and 60% of homicides in Costa Rica have to do with settling scores that we can relate to drug trafficking issues, mainly due to conflicts between groups,” Soto said.
Soto added that the majority of homicide victims are people with a criminal record and that the authorities associate them with drug trafficking groups that dispute territories or are even people involved in fights within the same criminal gangs.
“The main problem that overwhelms the country is drug dealing (selling drugs in small quantities) and the fights between groups for the territories,” Soto commented.
Of the 656 homicides, 472 were committed with firearms, 106 with a knife, and 78 of another type.
The provinces of San José, Heredia, Puntarenas, and Limón exceeded 100 murders in the year, with Limón heading the list, with 168 homicides.
Regarding the most violent months in 2022, October was the month with the most, at 68 homicides, followed by December with 67; on the lower end of the scale, September and March had the fewest homicides, with 46 and 45, respectively.
Commenting on these negative data, Soto insisted on a reconsideration of the strategies to deal with homicides, considering that the solution must be integral to society and not just a police issue, because multiple factors affect violence.