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San José, Costa Rica, Friday Edition
June 23, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 124
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Ex-police head arrested on drug trafficking charges
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The former director of the main Costa Rican police force was arrested Wednesday night for allegedly helping a drug trafficking organization transport cocaine from Guanacaste into México and the United States, according to the Judicial Investigation Organization.

The arrest took place on the road to Orotina, in the province of Alajuela. There, the suspect was caught in a car while escorting a truck that carried 237 kilos of cocaine, judicial agents said.

Along with the former director, a Mexican and two Costa Rican citizen were also arrested. Inside the car and the truck the police found a GPS device, a night vision tool, a nine millimeter pistol, radios and a .45 caliber Beretta pistol.

According to Michael Soto, director of the Judicial Investigating Organization, the investigation against the former director started in May 2016 in the same road. At the time, the police caught a Minivan carrying 430 kilos of cocaine. The minivan belonged to the same group who never carried more than 500 kilos of the drug.

Soto also explained the director's role was mainly a logistic one, for he was in charge of recruiting transporters and determining the times and dates to do the trafficking. The cocaine came from South America, he said.

“This was quite a complicated operation, because the suspect had all the expertise needed to avoid getting caught,” Soto added.

The former director was chief of the Fuerza Pública from July 1, 2007 to April 15, 2008. He left the police definitely in 2013.

Back in 2009, the man had already raised suspicion from authorities. At the time, an airplane carrying 347 kilos of cocaine crashed in Cerro de la Muerte and the pilot died. The former director arrived before judicial investigators arrived at the scene and then the GPS device of the plane disappeared.

The device would have been of use to determine the planes route before the accident. At the time, the suspect claimed he arrived to the place without authorization because the pilot was a good friend of his.

                            ex-director courtesy photo
Ex-director at moment of arrest. Face removed from original photo.

After he left the Fuerza Pública, he was involved in the investigation about the possible murder of  John Bender, a U.S citizen to whom he offered private security services.

Bender was a multimillionaire found dead back in 2010 as a result of a bullet wound in his head. His wife Ann Bender was the only witness and claimed her husband committed suicide. Prosecutors did not believe that and prosecuted her for homicide. However, she was never proven guilty.

In that case, prosecutors tried to involve the former director as part of a possible homicide but he was also cleared of any charges. A.M. Costa Rica covered that story HERE.

In 2013, the suspect came also into the spotlight when he decided to create and train a group of people who called themselves La Patrulla 1856.

On its Facebook site, the group claimed to be ready to defend the Costa Rican sovereignity from a Nicaraguan invasion. At the time, Nicaraguan forces were settled down in Isla Calero, territory that Costa Rica claimed to be part of the country.

The former director was taken into custody and the Ministerio Público will determine if preventive prison is applied.

Inactive companies may be subject to new taxes
By Rommel Téllez
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Inactive companies registered before the Registro Nacional may soon be subject to regular income taxes, should a bill presented before the Legislative Assembly is approved.

The draft is sponsored by the legislators Patricia Mora from Frente Amplio, Marco Quirós and Marcela Guerrero from Partido Acción Ciudanana and Carmen Quesada, an independent legislator.

The initiative would allow the Dirección General de Tributación to monitor commercial companies and societies of persons who are inactive. According to the current law, the Dirección lacks the legal power to request an income declaration to those organizations.

Ms. Guerrerro said there are almost 621,000 companies registered in the Registro Nacional, out of that amount, 489,000 declare no commercial activities and that's something that is not normal, she said.

The plan would assume those companies are making profit unless the contrary is proven.
For that matter, timely notification will be granted to its members, Guerrero explained.

She also said that having an inactive company is not illegal but lots of them are used for tax avoidance and tax evasion, so further control is required in order to adhere to international standards.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, approximately 70 percent of Costa Rican companies are not regularly monitored on taxes due to their inactive status. 

On a report issued in October 2015, the organization says about 3,000 companies were found to engage in commercial activities despite their status between 2011 and 23013.

It is customary that companies are created to protect property from seizure in case of debts, felonies and child support.

Currently, inactive companies do pay an annual fee for its registration and part of that money is used to fund the police corps.

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