Drug Trade Threatens Costa Rica’s ‘Pura Vida’ Reputation

first_img SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — A group of 14 prisoners tried to escape May 12th from La Reforma, Costa Rica’s largest prison. The attempted jailbreak was led by Nicaraguan inmate Erlyn Hurtado, who in 2005 was involved in one of the nation’s bloodiest massacres, and Johel Araya, who was shot six times in an escape attempt from the same prison in 2006. The escape attempt began when Hurtado opened his jail cell using a set of the prison’s master keys and held guards hostage with a .380 pistol, the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) said. Hurtado then opened Araya’s cell and freed another 20 to 30 more inmates. They used smoke bombs, fake grenades, radios and cellphones to corral 15 hostages — mostly prison guards — and demanded an escape vehicle. After a three-hour standoff, Costa Rican police intervened to thwart the escape attempt. Hurtado, a fellow prisoner and a prison guard were killed in the ensuing shootout. Just outside the prison gates, authorities found a vacant Dodge van stocked with AK-47s, ski masks, bulletproof vests, $2,000 in cash, food, bottles of water and homemade explosives. Despite round-the-clock surveillance and strict regulations against unauthorized parking, the Dodge had been on the property for four days. “With the information we have obtained about the escape thus far in our investigation, it appears the criminals were operating under the assistance of someone working within the prison system,” said OIJ Director Jorge Rojas. “Our investigation will be aimed at determining who was responsible for assisting the prisoners in the escape.” Last week, Rojas and Security Minister Mario Zamora said the escape attempt might be linked to drug traffickers. “What we do know is that someone in the prison administration must have had strong connections and a motive for assisting the prisoners with the keys,” said Zamora. “Drug cartels are very wealthy and powerful, which often results in corruption.” Three Mexican prisoners jailed in La Reforma were linked to international drug organizations at the time of their arrest in Costa Rica, OIJ said. Cartels in Costa Rica Over the past few years, Costa Rican security forces, including the OIJ and the Drug Control Police (known by its Spanish initials PCD), have locked up several high-profile criminals tied to Mexican drug cartels. In March, three Mexicans linked to the infamous Sinaloa cartel were detained at a residence in Cartago, east of San José. The men were in possession of 319 kilograms of cocaine valued at $12.7 million. They had been in and out of Costa Rica several times since 2007, and were being closely monitored by the OIJ. Two other men with suspected links to the Sinaloa cartel were arrested in February. In May 2007, the OIJ conducted a raid known as “Operation Aztec” on a house in the western San José neighborhood of Rohrmoser. Seven Mexicans and one Colombian were arrested while remodeling the house as a cocaine storage facility for the Sinaloa cartel. A month earlier, the PCD raided a home in Tejar del Guarco, east of San José, and arrested two Mexicans in possession of 300 kilograms of cocaine and money in multiple currencies. Mauricio Boraschi, director of the PCD, said earlier this month that Costa Rica acts as a bridge. “The drugs have to be transported either by air, land or sea. Transportation is typically organized by Mexican organizations and has to move north through Central America,” he said. “To do so, Mexican organizations typically move drugs north by sea or air, as ground transportation is the easiest to monitor. When drugs are moved north via the sea, Central American ports are used.” Costa Rica’s Public Security Ministry said police last year seized 9,900 kilograms of cocaine, the second-highest quantity in history, exceeded only by 2008 figures. The ministry also reported that 101 drug organizations were dismantled in 2010, a record high. From 2006 to 2010, 400 drug organizations were broken up, including 347 local groups and 53 international ones. Chinchilla: Much more must be done On May 4, four days shy of her one-year anniversary, President Laura Chinchilla told lawmakers what her government was doing to improve security for the country’s 3.5 million citizens. During her 90-minute speech, she mentioned “narcotrafficking” seven times. “Today I am here to confirm the vision that is shared by everyone in the country: to make Costa Rica a more secure home for all of its residents,” she said. “To achieve that goal, we will do so by following one route: the route of human security. Never before has the word ‘insecurity’ defined so many of our lives.” While Chinchilla boasted of her administration’s accomplishments in combating the drug trade, she warned that “we observe with alarm the relentless advance of organized crime and drug-trafficking threatening our democracy with potential corruption and extortion, as well as violence and delinquency.” Most security officials agree that if Costa Rica intends to confront the drug traffickers, more help is needed — and fast. At present, the government has only one helicopter, and most of the Costa Rican Coast Guard’s patrol vessels are aged and incapable of pursuing high-speed boats in open waters. People in rural towns throughout the country complain of a lack of police and security. Many towns with populations ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 have police forces of two, three or five officers that are required to patrol areas of several hundred squares kilometers of land and sea. Costa Rica’s former security minister, José María Tijerino, said in his final address that “the state of the forces in certain parts of the country is deplorable.” PCD’s Boraschi agreed. “It is evident that the drug cartels are very powerful and can infiltrate places we used to consider untouchable, Boraschi said. “If we plan to keep drugs out of our country, it will require significant investment by our government. We need more police, we need better equipment and we need international assistance. If we don’t begin to put these pieces in place soon, the face of this country could soon be altered by drug-trafficking.” By Dialogo May 27, 2011last_img read more

Roosevelt Shooting Leaves Man Wounded

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A man was shot and wounded in Roosevelt on Tuesday evening and the shooter remains at large, Nassau County police said.The 20-year-old victim was shot in the abdomen by a gunman at the corner of Charles Street and Debevoise Avenue at 7:24 p.m., police said.A black vehicle with dark tinted windows was seen fleeing the scene eastbound on Debevoise Avenue toward Nassau Road.The victim was taken to a local hospital, where he was admitted for treatment and is listed in stable condition.Police neither made any arrests nor released a description of the suspect.First Squad detectives request anyone with information regarding this crime to contact Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS. All callers will remain anonymous.last_img read more

Class of 2004

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WFW advises on FSRU BW Integrity financing

first_imgImage courtesy of BW LNGInternational law firm Watson Farley & Williams acted as advisor to Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank and KfW- IPEX Bank in the $191.8m post-delivery financing of BW Group’s FSRU BW Integrity.The FSRU has a storage capacity in excess of 170,000 cubic meters and a peak regasification capacity of 750 million standard cubic feet per day and will serve Pakistan’s second LNG terminal at Port Qasim and is currently employed by PGP consortium, a subsidiary of Pakistan GasPort consortium.The FSRU will provide 600 million cubic feet per day of regasification to state-owned Pakistan LNG Terminals under a 15-year contract.The vessel was built by Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard in Geoje, South Korea for Singapore-based gas shipping giant BW Group.The floating storage and regasification unit will play a vital part of Pakistan’s plan to reduce the country’s gas deficit as well as aiming to yield large savings in annual foreign exchange, enhancing the country’s growth in economy, WFW said.last_img read more

Postecoglou: Pressure on Moyes

first_imgDavid Moyes could not have known the pressures of being Manchester United manager until he actually stepped into the job claims the next man aiming to stop him getting that morale-boosting first win. And another defeat, even in a pre-season match, is bound to attract negative comment given the high-profile nature of this weekend’s fixture. It is the type of scrutiny Moyes would not have encountered at Everton. And All Stars coach Ange Postecoglou accepts it is part of the job. “I am sure David Moyes has prepared for it,” he said. “He is a very experienced manager. But until you are actually in the seat I am sure you don’t realise exactly how massive the pressures and expectations are. “I am sure the amount of scrutiny he will be under is surreal. The fans in Australia will be trying to pick up any noticeable differences in the things he does or the kind of players he picks. But he is ready for the role and I am sure he will make a good fist of it.” Unlike Sir Alex Ferguson, who dealt with the media in a fairly unforgiving manner, Moyes’ engaging nature means his tolerance for subjects such as Wayne Rooney goes far deeper. Yet that can just draw even more words out of subjects he would probably prefer not to talk about. “You have to deal with these things,” said Postecoglou. “You are probably more in the spotlight at the bigger clubs because the level of expectation is so much higher. “Maybe at clubs with less scrutiny there is less at stake. But Manchester United are expected to be challenging for trophies and winning things and at that level, it is as much about man-managing as it is about the coaching. “That is why what Sir Alex did over those 26 years was so remarkable. That is why they are such big shoes to fill. He was a once-in-a-generation manager.” After the surprise loss in Bangkok, United have now moved on to Sydney for a full week’s training that will end with a sell-out encounter against the A League All Stars at the ANZ Stadium on Saturday. The arrivals of Robin van Persie and David de Gea has helped give United a more familiar look. However, with Nemanja Vidic, Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Antonio Valencia and Wayne Rooney amongst a large number of absentees, Moyes is still not even close to working with his full squad. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

USC students teach health at schools

first_imgDuring their gym period, the ninth graders at Green Dot Animo South Los Angeles Charter High School are restless.  They want to talk to their friends and play basketball.Eventually, members of USC Peer Health Exchange manage to corral them and settle them in for a lesson on the importance of health education.As the high schools around Los Angeles are usually underfunded and understaffed, health classes are not a part of the core curriculum. Often, the lessons are the only exposure the students have to helpful and accurate information about health, and the only opportunity for them to ask questions in a safe and nonjudgmental environment.Armed with lessons and workshop materials, Peer Health Exchange visits high schools once or twice a week to teach students in their health classes. Peer Health Exchange was started in 1999 by a group of Yale University graduates and has since grown into a national nonprofit organization. Boasting chapters in major areas all over the United States, including Chicago, Washington, D.C., Boston, New York City, the Bay Area and Los Angeles, the organization matches local high schools with college students looking for experience in the health or education fields.Martha Wolnicki, a junior majoring in neuroscience, and Rachel Belzer, a senior majoring in health promotion and disease prevention, act as co-presidents of the USC branch, taking on administrative duties and evaluating the workshop materials to ensure they will run smoothly.“We have a series of 13 workshops where we talk about accessing resources, how to find health information and decision-making regarding sex, drugs and alcohol,” Belzer said. “We also do communication and advocacy, teaching these students how to stand for themselves, how to communicate and how to get information they need if it’s not readily available.”Wolnicki said the team offers services local students typically lack.“A lot of the time these students don’t really have accurate sources of information, so it’s important that we clarify their questions,” Wolnicki said. “They need to have proper information so they can make the right decisions for themselves and others.”The program offers a chance to experience work in the health education field, gives members a head start on their future professions and endows them with new skills.Kathleen Tor, a senior majoring in biological sciences, had no teaching experience prior to joining Peer Health Exchange but said she gained a lot out of the program.“I’ve discovered that I really enjoy teaching, breaking down information and passing it down to students,” Tor said. “For volunteers, PHE is an opportunity to follow their passion for health promotion while simultaneously giving back to the community.Christopher Lees, a senior majoring in human biology, said he wanted to extend his reach beyond the bubble of USC and connect with the wider L.A. community.“To be able to communicate with the younger demographic of Los Angeles is something I take a lot of pride in,” Lees said. “I’m planning to matriculate into medical school in the fall, and it’s given me a better range of what I can expect in the medical field because these are the next generation of people that are coming through. Empowering students to make their own healthy decisions is something I’m a really big proponent of, and this was one of the best programs for me to do that.”last_img read more

Rep. Allor Testifies in Support of Bill

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThis State Representative Sue Allor recently testified in the House Michigan Families, Children, and Seniors Committee.Her testimony was in support of her bill that expands state payment to health care providers for sexual assault exams. Allor discussed how the cost of providing these services to victims of sexual assaults has increased, causing many health care providers to become financially constrained due to the costs.To ensure that these services are continued, Allor believes that the state must provide additional funding to health care providers, partners, or subcontractors.According to Allor, costs shouldn’t keep victims from getting the care that they need.The bill remains under consideration by the Families, Children, and Seniors Committee. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisContinue ReadingPrevious More Speed Limit Changes to Take PlaceNext Upcoming: 4th Annual Indoor Auto Showlast_img read more

Mortgage Applications Reverse Course as Interest Rates Tick Up

first_imgMortgage Applications Reverse Course as Interest Rates Tick Up February 11, 2015 450 Views Share A slight rise in interest rates headed off mortgage refinancing demand in early February, putting a drag on total mortgage application volumes after a strong January.Mortgage applications, including both purchase and refinance volumes, fell a seasonally adjusted 9.0 percent week-over-week for the week ending February 6, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said Wednesday.MBA’s refinance application index dropped 10 percent week-on-week, accompanying a small increase in the average 30-year fixed rate to 3.84 percent. The decline saw the refinance share of mortgage activity slip back down to 69 percent of total applications compared to 71 percent at the end of January.Helped by rock-bottom rates and lower annual Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insurance premiums, refinance applications finished out January up about 54 percent from the month prior, signaling the start of what some analysts anticipate will be a new “mini-boom” for remortgaging.Paul Diggle, property economist for Capital Economics, said the firm expects to see refinance volumes jump by about 200 percent in the first half of 2015, though that prediction may fall short if consumers have a bad reaction to interest rates ticking upward again. Most projections call for rates to push up to nearly 5 percent by the end of this year.Meanwhile, MBA’s seasonally adjusted measure of purchase loan applications fell 7 percent week-over-week. Unadjusted, the index was down 1 percent on a weekly basis, floating just above where it was at this time last year.center_img in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News Mortgage Applications Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Rates Purchase Loans Refinances 2015-02-11 Tory Barringerlast_img read more