Monday 25 January 2021

Informal Trade, Massage Parlors, Sale of Drugs Triggers Insecurity in Tamarindo

Fuerza Publica director Juan José Andrade
Fuerza Publica director Juan José Andrade meeting in Guanacaste with the heads of the various police units to beef up security in the area. Photo:

QCOSTARICA – Tolerated informal trade, massage parlours and other businesses used as criminal fronts, and private tour guide activities, among others, are factors the Fuerza Publica (police) say are the triggers of insecurity in the Pacific beach town of Tamarindo, Guanacaste

Days ago merchants and residents of the area, reported feeling insecure amid the rampant drug use, theft of shops and fear triggered by the recent killing of an American businessman, Barry Lawson, living in the area.

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72 yeard ol Lawson, that according to a report by Guanacaste news website Primero en Noticias, living in Playa Langosta, was brutally beaten when he resisted a home invasion and died days later at the CIMA Hospital in Escazu.

Some say Tamarindo is “no man’s land” due to a lot of drugs and violence.

Juan José Andrade, director of the Fuerza Publica, says unfortunately illegal activities are hidden behind fronts, generating insecurity among the people. Andrade adds that the hiring on “informals” – people without work permits, adds to the problem.

Barry Lawson, founder of the Amigos de la Educación
American Barry Lawson, founder of the Amigos de la Educación, was brutally beaten during a home invasion in Playa Langosta (Tamarindo). He died in hospital days later.Photo:

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Tamarindo is visited by foreigner and national tourists all year round. Unfortunately, due to sanitary conditions, the Tamarindo police station (delegación in Spanish) was forced closed and police operations are being managed nearby in Villareal, some two kilometers from the beach town, staffed by only 18 officials.

Andrade said the new Tamarindo police station will be ready in 2017.

In smaller communities in Guanacaste and Nicoya, a staff of two officials is more the norm than a rarity. Like in Abangares on the night of Easter Sunday, on two officials patrolling an entire canton, according to Fuerza Publica official speaking to the Q on terms of anonymity.

Roy Melendez, a local merchant speaking to, said “”In recent months the issue has become more complicated (…).”

But, despite the position of Melendez and the general feeling of insecurity by many in the community, the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública (MSP) – Public Security Ministry – says in comparison of the first quarter of 2014, in 2015 burglaries, robberies and break-ins fell between 40% and 100%.

But Melendez reiterates “there’s a robbery every day. What are foreigners coming for two to three months think of the country?”

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