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Medical Examiner: “An Increase In Excess Violence and Cruelty In Homicides”

Between Januay 1 and July 31 of this year, there were 340 homicides, 18 more than last year. The OIJ estimates a recrod year of 600. Photo La Nacion archives

“In the past decade, when I came to work here (Forensic Medicine), 12 years ago, we had homicides where the bodies had one to two gunshot wounds. Now, the bodies we see have up to 20 gunshot wounds.”

That is the word of Maikel Vargas, one of the forensic doctors of the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ), who spoke to La Nacion, of his experience, in the absence of a statistic detailing how many bodies with multiple gunshot wounds received.

For the medical examiner, this shows an excess of violence and cruelty in the murders, mostly those associated with the settling of scores related to the drug trafficking trade.

Vargas, who is also the president of the Asociación Costarricense de Medicina Legal (Legal Medicine Association of Costa Rica), said since 2005, on average, they have examined 300 bodies per year with more than seven gunshot wounds.

One such case is that of Dennis Patricio Omier Taylor, 34, known as “Tupac”, alleged leader of a drug trafficking group in Limon, gunned down in a hail of bullets on October 9, 2015, in San Francisco de Dos Rios, in San Jose.

The forensic examination revealed Omier was impacted by 70 bullets fired from an Avtomat Kalashnikov (AK-47) rifle.

For Vargas, this is one of the cases that impacted him the most.

An AK-47 type weapon was also used to kill Jerry Steve Godinez Rivas, 24, on February 12 of this year, in Hatillo 3. Rivas was impacted by 30 bullets.

Sure death. On July 2, 19-year-old Joshua Caleb Mora Artavia was shot 22 times in the head and neck while waiting for the bus in Santa Ana, San Jose.

On that occasion, the head of the OIJ Homicide section, Álvaro González, indicated that the gunmen perpetrated the crime in this way to rule out any possibility of survival of the victims.

“The number of shots is the assurance of the death of the person. We do not have the slightest doubt that it is a settlement of scores where they ensured the death of the victim,” said Gonzalez.

For the medical examiner, more than a quantitative issue, the increase in homicides must also be analyzed in a qualitative way, since violence in crimes reflects the high level of violence in society.

For 2017, the OIJ predicts that the country will close the year with a total of 600 homicides and a rate of 12 per 100,000 inhabitants, the highest in history.

As of July 31, the Judicial Police recorded 340 murders; 18 more compared to the same date of the previous year (322).

The OIJ says that 47% of the cases in this period is for vengeance and related to the illegal drug trade.