San Jose, Dec 13 (IANS/EFE) Costa Rica is seeing off 2015 as the most violent year in its history, with at least 528 homicides till date, one more than the previous record established in 2010, according to figures released by the country’s OIJ law enforcement agency.
OIJ data indicated that 527 homicides were recorded in 2010, but since then, the country has seen a decline to 474 in 2011, 407 in 2012, 411 in 2013 and 477 in 2014.
However, up to now in 2015, at least 528 homicides have been committed, the most recent of which occurred on Saturday in the city of Alajuela, where a 17-year-old youth was gunned down by another teen riding a motorcycle.
Costa Rica has historically maintained a homicide rate lower than 10 out of every 10,000 inhabitants, but according to official projections, 2015 will end with murders above and beyond that number.
Throughout this year, the OIJ and the security ministry have warned of an increase in the kind of crimes known as a “settling of scores” between groups of organised crime, particularly drug traffickers, and which are executed by hired killers.
Security cameras have recorded the extraordinary violence with which many of these murders have been carried out, for example with illegal heavy arms like AK-47 assault rifles.
Costa Rican Security Minister Gustavo Mata said last October that according to official data, between January and August 2015 there were 370 homicides, of which 202 (55 percent) are attributed to organised crime.
Those 202 deaths included 145 judged to be “for revenge or the settling of scores,” while another 57 bodies were found shot to death and dumped on vacant lots.
During 2015 the security minister called for more prosecutors at the Attorney General’s Office in its special unit for fighting organised crime, and the creation of a special section dedicated to investigating organised crime.