QCOSTARICA – How did the Matapalo massacre suspect so easily make it into Nicaragua? Or for that matter any other who commits a crime, even while wanted by authorities, still manage to make it across the borders – north and south – with ease?
The answer is the “coyotes” – the smugglers who make a living moving people illegally across the border from Costa Rica and Nicaragua or Panama.
Diario Extra reporter Manuel Estrada says he caught up with the ‘coyote’, speaking to him in a place described as a cement wall that serves as a the boundary line between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, a place allowing the coyote to earn a living for the past decade, moving people, illegally, from one side to another.
The young man agreed to the interview in exchange for anonymity, for his illegal practice could land him and many of his friends (and family) in jail.
“It was not the first time I moved Salmeron out of Costa Rica, I knew him, he was a horny man. That Sunday, at the end of the day, he was agitated, uneasy, almost did not speak, just told me. ‘I’m going back up’ (to Nicaragua).
“He paid me US$75 (a$50, $20 and $5), I put the money in my pocket and we started walking. As we ran into other people going up and down the mountain I noticed that he was walking very fast, which I found odd because he was always calm,” explained the coyote.
“I never imagined what that ‘broder’ (brother) had done, I always crossed him, he was a good customer and liked to go alone. A few days later he would return, the last time was in December, said he was going to visit dad.
“After two hours walking, out of the fields waiting was a car of another friend who is in charge of moving people by road to their destination. I returned with a Nicaraguan couple who wanted to enter Costa Rica, but he (Salmeron) left me with a feeling that something had happened,” said the coyote in his long narration of his last encounter with the (alleged) Matapalo murderer.
According to the coyote, his ‘client’ carried fake ID for both countries – Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
Important here is that Salmeron was not yet a suspect, the bodies of Dirk Beauchamp (American), his Costa Rican wife, Jessica Duran and three of their children – and the two children surviving the attack – had not been yet discovered on that Sunday afternoon. It, the macabre discovery, would not be until Tuesday morning when a Caja case worker came calling on the family.
What follows next is from police reports, Salmeron, after dodging the danger and able to evade authorities in both countries, he arrived at the home of his uncle, in the small community of Las Mojarras, where days later he would be arrested.
On Friday, five days later after the massacre (three days after the discovery), Salmeron was in police custody after his father called police. Neighbours had no idea what one of their own had done until they saw the news reports.
Judicial authorities in Costa Rica confirm that Salmeron had changed clothing, a cap and shirt, he had worn during the crime, found by police and undergoing analysis.
Nicaragua’s constitution does not allow for the extradition of its citizens, however, authorities in Nicaragua have decided to try him on the evidence by their Costa Rican counterparts.