(QCOSTARICA) Corruption is a thing of everyday life around the world. What sets Costa Rica apart is the “brazen” (‘descarado’ in Spanish) in which many public officials go about it.
In a round-up of the headlines, just this week, we have a former high-ranking official of the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) – judicial investigative police, a unit akin to the FBI in the U.S. – convicted for embezzlement; a former prison guard arrested for introducing cellular phones in prisons; and, a guard at the MOPT yard in Cañas, in Guanacaste, for selling a seized motorcycle.
In the first, the former secretary-general of the OIJ, Marlon Schlotterhausen Rojas, was on Wednesday sentenced to 12 years in prison on four counts of embezzlement. According to the Ministerio Publico statement, Rojas will actually only serve out 9 years. The former official had been accused of the theft of ¢3 million colones from petty cash, that was used by the OIJ to carry out investigations.
In the second, the former prison guard, identified by his last name, Vega, was arrested on Thursday by OIJ officials, suspected of introducing cellular phones to La Reforma prison.
The preliminary report by the OIJ reveals that Vega, stationed in the Alajuela maximum security prison, allegedly offered prisoners, for ¢40,000 colones, to get a cellular phone to them in the prison. Once a prisoner accepted the deal, Vega would arrange for the phone to be delivered to his home in Puntarenas and then bring it into the prison without detection. Vega quit on July 29. Investigators believe that at least 7 phones were smuggled into the prison, the last on July 28.
In the third, the OIJ reports the arrest of a security guard at the MOPT yard in Cañas, on suspicion of stealing at least one motorcycle confiscated by the Traffic police.
The arrest of the man identified by his last name, Brenes, was on Wednesday after OIJ agents raided is house, located some 3 blocks from his workplace. According to the OIJ report, for months there had been reports of theft of confiscated motorcycles stored at the Guanacaste yard.