by Henry Morales, Vozdeguanacaste.com – The Public Force will reinforce security in Playas del Coco (Guanacaste) with 12 tourist police in the area and training for neighborhood groups to form community security committees, as well as lectures in local elementary and high schools to prevent crime and drug use.
These are the measures that the Ministry of Public Security (MSP- Ministerio de Seguridad Publica) opted to take after the crime against young Alejo Leiva, who was murdered on this beach last March.
With the tourist police presence, the district will be patrolled by 24 officers in total, including the 12 Public Force police in blue uniforms currently working in the area.
Daniel Calderon, regional director of the Guanacaste Public Force, said the goal is to prevent the crimes that they detected in recent joint operations conducted in Coco and Tamarindo.
Since early April, the Public Force, Immigration, Civil Aviation, the Coast Guard, Traffic Police and the Operational Support Group have been conducting joint operations in Tamarindo Beach and Coco. According to the MSP press report, during the police operations, they have arrested 179 people, the majority for possession and sale of drugs, illegal possession of firearms, reckless driving and violation of immigration and foreign affairs law.
In total, 21 stolen vehicles, 34 motorcycles, weapons and drugs were seized.
To Calderon, those numbers are normal in coastal areas, but the work of the authorities is to prevent and minimize the crime rate in the area.
After the operations, Coco residents say they feel safe with the police presence, but they also plan to put security cameras in their businesses.
Dixon Vasquez, a resident of Coco Beach, commented that, at first, he and the neighbors were afraid of the number of police that they saw.
“Neighbors were nervous since we are not used to seeing so many police on the streets, but many things are changing for the better,” Vasquez said.
On the other hand, William Ayre, owner of The Lookout restaurant in Coco, said tourists view the area as a peaceful place.
“The feeling that tourists have is that it is a peaceful place here. Foreign tourists didn’t even realize what happened (with the death of Alejo),” Ayre said.
Calderon said that the joint operations that have been carried out since April in Coco and Tamarindo beaches will continue indefinitely and that they will be expanded to Samara in the coming months.