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Kidnap and Human Trafficking in Costa Rica

Kidnap and Human Trafficking in Costa Rica

Kidnap and human trafficking is not only illegal but also extremely immoral. Victims all around the world are subjects of mistreatments and some of them lose their lives without being free again. Human Trafficking is the second most common type of crime in the globe, Costa Rica is no exception to these tragedies. 


The country is mostly known for its natural beauties and sustainable development. But it is also true that it is a country in development with economic and social challenges. The increase of crimes of this type is due to factors such as poverty, corruption, a lack of opportunities and a prison system collapsed because of excess population.


Kidnap is when a person is deprived of liberty and retained to get a ransom or other unlawful purposes. Human trafficking is when there´s deception or use of force to exploit victims for forced or sexual labor and slavery in general. 


Kidnaping in Costa Rica has become an easy way to make money. They have practices to avoid the law and the OIJ like ransoms in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies or the so called “rescue organizations” that are sometimes the same organized crime band pretending to do a rescue for lower rates than the ransom. 


In the country, from 2020 to 2022, 24 out of 32 kidnappings with rescues from authorities were related to drug trafficking and reckonings. Statistics show that since the covid-19 pandemic there are 10 kidnappings in 12-months periods on average. However, the OIJ (Judicial Investigation Organism) has proven that they are well trained and  have resolved and rescued most of the victims. In the previous time range mentioned, there are only 3 more cases that haven’t been resolved yet. 

How to identify is someone you know is a hostage victim:

  • House or business with suspicious activities. 
  • Excessive security and surveillance.
  • Houses with suspicious movement of people and no interaction with the neighbors.
  • Underage people in bars or nightclubs, accompanied by older men.
  • People with relations with other people known for being related to sexual services activities. 
  • Undocumented foreigners. 
  • Suspicious amount of visits to accountants and lawyers.
  • Guarded people or permanently accompanied. 
  • A person who has restricted transit or is allowed to go to a few places.
  • Not congruent stories.
  • Concentration of women ranging the same ages in the same business.
  • Group of people organized and transported by others.
  • Foreigner prostitutes.

These signs can be red flags and it could allow the people living near the victims to help them by reporting the abuse.


Costa Rica is committed to Human Rights and laws that protect citizens, it also has programs to protect and help victims. Since it’s a country without an army, police have special training to handle hostage situations but sometimes criminals have better training and armament. 



Karen Ebanks

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