Up the road towards San Jose and near the local hospital is an area known as Loma Linda, or, less pleasantly, the Precaria.
The land itself is, or was, a finca which was the property of a governmental institution which neglected it….and gradually seasonal workers, Nicaraguans come to pick coffee, started to set up permanent homes there, undisturbed.
Gradually the shacks made of galvanised sheeting became proper houses inhabited by families. The electricity system was hacked into to provide light and power…the water system likewise. It looks like any other village in the area and the council has now started a scheme to legitimise landholding…and to collect taxes!
Being something of an Alsatia, where no writ ran and dubious characters took refuge – many thanks to Mike of A Bit About Britain for reminding me of that part of London’s history – the area has been viewed with disfavour by its neighbours for some time, a view exacerbated now that Costa Rica has changed from being a staging post for the drugs trafficked between Columbia and the U.S.A. to a full blown market in itself.
Our little town has been hit hard…drugs on sale outside the schools, not to speak of inside, where the police now mount raids with drug detection dogs. Drugs on sale outside a popular restaurant and in the central park.
And with drugs use comes crime, to get the money for the next fix, so not only is there the regular crime of stealing anything not nailed down but also housebreaking and mugging.
Little crime kingdoms have risen and have become profitable enough for other crime kingdoms to try for a takeover.
Last month there was a shoot out in Loma Linda between the resident crooks and a gang from one of the suburbs of San Jose, the action ending suddenly with the arrival of the police.
Ah yes…the police. There have been changes.
The new police chief has sussed that the regular penal judge has a great respect for the presumption of innocence and for the level of proof necessary to disturb that presumption. In other words, the alleged criminal will be free to leave the court without stain on his character on a normal judicial day.
Personally I think that the Fiscalia – State Prosecutors – might have something to do with the attitude of the judge. From what I have seen of their preparation of certain cases they seem to be acting as substitute lawyers for the defence…but, however that may be, the new broom has decided that it is only worth mounting large scale action at the weekends, when a duty judge is sent down from San Jose.
These gentlemen, used to the rough and tumble of the city’s summary courts, seem to have a looser definition of the necessary level of proof…bring one of the undesirables before them and they end up in preventive detention before you can say Jack Robinson.
So, last Friday, police nabbed a well known ne’er do well as he and his female companions were boarding a bus for San Jose. They were found to be carrying a quantity of good reported as stolen.
The duty judge issued a search order, and the home at Loma Linda gave up a vast quantity of other goods reported as stolen.
Six months preventive detention, and our boy was marched off to the police cells to await transfer to the jug.
By now public feeling was running high. Social media resounded to calls of ‘Burn the Precaria’, while honest residents of same responded that it was not their fault that they had criminals as neighbours and where were the police…
Public feeling was to run a damned sight higher that night when it was learned that our boy had escaped!
He had asked to go to the loo, and once out of his cell had assaulted the officers and made a run for it…through the main entrance of the police station!
Now, our little town is a bit of a joke, even to itself, but this was too much!
A manhunt was organised.
Local police, the local detective branch, specialised police from San Jose…and even a helicopter!
The ‘phones were hot as locals alerted the police to possible sightings…
He is Barrio St. Cecilia…he is climbing in and out of gardens…
He is in Barrio Carit….running off into a cafetal…
I am in Barrio Corazon de Jesus…I have shut myself into my house and he is in my garden…
I’ve just seen him in Barro San Isidro……
He is in Charcon! No, not that Charcon, the other one….
Thank goodness for the helicopter!
Not being a very bright criminal mastermind, our boy had legged it for home in Loma Linda where one of the San Jose police was keeping an eye on the premises. Spotting him, the lady…for it was a police woman ….attempted to arrest him. He fought back, injuring her, and she later said she thought she would be obliged to use her firearm, but a – female – colleague, alerted by the noise, came to the rescue and between them they managed to overpower him.
He was taken to the local hospital to have his physical state recorded…he seemed to have various injuries related to his refusal to be arrested…and was taken thence to the cells of the local detective branch where I suspect that he will have to exercise a great deal of bladder control before he is taken off to the jug.
As he now faces charges relating to escaping detention and attacks on the police women it is likely that his preventive detention will last rather longer than six months…to the delight of all right thinking people in the area.
Lucky that they caught him before the regular judge came back to work on Monday, though…