Cracking Down on Cell Phones in Costa Rica Prisons

A new initiative seeks to fine those who deliver phones into prisons with over ¢4 million, or ten base salaries. The fine is extremely high due to the danger implied by entering phones, as they are often used in scams.

It took four months to discover that a call center was being held in one prison. The estimated cost to victims this year alone is between ¢5,000 million or $1 million. Penitentiary Police seize phones, chargers, phone cards and phone parts constantly. They have found at least 2,000 phones.

The project also seeks to punish any officer who enters phones by being disabled from public service for three to five years in addition to the monetary fine.

On Monday night, an officer of the Penitentiary Police was caught trying to put drugs and phones into the Gerardo Rodríguez prison in San Rafael de Alajuela. Other officers noticed a suspicious attitude and then found he had 42.35 grams of crack, 152.95 grams of cocaine, and 290 clonazepam pills in his clothes. He also had seven phones, 11 chargers, two charging adapters, a USB cable, a hands-free and 11 SIM cards. He is now serving three months of preventive detention for possession of drugs for purposes of aggravated supply.

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