QCOSTARICA – “I’ll explain something … those people (referring to the street racers) carry drugs; they are armed,” Rafael Delgado, a traffic official (tránsito) in San José, replied to La Nacion when questioned why the traffic police (Policia de Tránsito) does not approach the street racers (“Picones” in Spanish) in the area of the Delta gasoline station, in Pavas, on February 19.
On that night, the La Nacion reports that the officials where on scene from 9:00pm to 11:50pm, but at no time did they approach the picones, pulling over any of the drivers involved in the illegal street racing or even to ask why this group had gathered in the area.
The Delta gasoline station is on the Pavas straightway, from the west side of the national stadium in La Sabana to the Circunvalación.
The official argued that they could not act against the picones because “they were just parked”.
Mario Calderon, director of the Policía de Tránsito, said the General Police Act (Ley General de Policía) provides that its function is preventive and not investigative.
The investigative function lies with the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ), reminded Calderon.
“I cannot do roadblocks to stop picones; you have never seen the OIJ (Judicial Police) setting up roadblocks to stop picones; that’s a function of the traffic police,” said Francisco Segura, director of the OIJ.
Another argument by Calderon is the lack of officials to constantly monitor the impromptu racing sites.
The country has 763 “active” traffic officials, working in three shifts, meaning there are only 254 traffic officials covering the some 5.000 kilometres of road in entire country at any one time.
According to the Policia de Transito data, last year they set up 42 spotchecks – less than one a week – resulting in the issuance of 1.929 traffic fines.
Street racing in Costa Rica has a great following. For example, just one Facebook page dedicated to street racing in the country has 19.000 fans. That page publishes days and times of events, among other information and photos of street racing.
Back to the night of February 19, La Nacion reports that officials of the Fuerza Publica (police) were also on site, but none of the officials approached the cars to investigate the reason for the gathering of more than 25 vehicles.
According to the Poder Judicial data for 2013, a total of 346 people were charged with reckless driving (a criminal offence in Costa Rica), but none of the cases corresponded to picones. Of the 346 cases, only 68% ended in a conviction.
Data for 2014 is not yet available.