The “gold rush” in Crucitas, in northern Costa Rica, a short distance from the river San Juan the border with Nicaragua, has also attracted sex workers to the area to offer their services, especially when there are a lot of coligalleros (miners who steals gold in small quantities) on the farms.

In this house the authorities found 50 people locked up. Photo Jeffrey Zamora

“Part of the problems that are experienced in Crucitas is prostitution and human trafficking, both situations are very unfortunate because this is part of organized crime that has been seen in the area. We are working hard on that,” said Allan Obando, head of the Policía de Fronteras (Border Police).

The caretaker of a farm told La Teja that once more than 10 sex workers in a single shot arrived at Crucitas, some from San José and others from Nicaragua, charging clients ten rojos (¢10,000 colones) for their services.

“Why do you think they come? Here there is money, when the miners do well they do not mind spending on guaro (a sugar cane-distilled alcoholic drink), cigars, women and even marijuana. They also despair for prepared food, such as a casado… things are calm when the police show up, but as soon as they leave it all kicks up again,” said the man who has six years of living in the farm house that houses the miners.

Inhuman treatment. For authorities not only prostitution is a problem. Obando says they have found cases in which miners who arrived in the area are locked up.

Authorities keep an eye on the cuarterías. Photo Jeffrey Zamora

“There was a house in inhuman conditions, when we arrived it was padlocked. We entered and there was a door with more padlocks, inside we found 50 people locked up, the house did not even have a bathroom. They are brought to work and they have them in those conditions that are unfortunate,” said the police chief.

Some of these foreigners (mainly from Nicaragua and Honduras) come to extract gold, when they finish and wait for payment they are told to leave or they report them to immigration, so the miners have no choice but to leave before the authorities arrive.

In Crucitas, explains Obando, “there are a lot of cuarterías (rooming houses), tin cans held together with wooden slats, which are rented for exaggerated sums of money”.

This Friday, the officers in an operation called ‘Lapa 2’, visited seven cuarterías to search for illegals, but found nothing irregular.

The Ministerio de Salud (Ministry of Health) is waiting to be allowed to destroy some of the rooming houses.

Source (in Spanish) La Teja, translaton by the Q.

Stay up to date with the latest stories by signing up to our newsletter, or following us on Facebook.