OIJ Disbanded Group Dedicated To Irregular Procedures With Passports
To ensure that a person with a date with Costa Rica's judicial system does not flee the country, it applied what is called an "impedimento de salida".
This legal action allows immigration officials at border crossings - land, air or sea - to stop them from leaving Costa Rican territory. But, we have read it over and over in reports where people do get through, that is they are able to evade jurisdiction by going to Nicaragua or Panama, as well as other destinations.
This occurs when someone looks the other way, as is the case of the detention of a group of "gavilanes" (hawksters) by the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) dedicated to irregular procedures at Paso Canoas border crossing.
Authorities say the group charged us$500 or more to give someone the ability to leave the country though they were restricted from doing so.
One immigration official was also detained in the police operation that used marked money to uncover those involved.
To leave Costa Rica, a person has to check into an immigration post where the officer checks the passport against a database. If the person is restricted from leaving the country, could be for failure to pay child support or alimony or a date with justice, they are denied the exit stamp.
The procedure is clear and up front at the land border crossings at Paso Canoas (Panama) and Peñas Blancas (Nicaragua), however, occurring behind the scene at airports like the Juan Santamaría and Tobias Bolaños (Pavas) in San José and the Daniel Oduber in Liberia.
At airports, passengers are required to hand in their departure tax form to the airline, which in turn hands it over to immigrations officials who do a database check before the flight is allowed to leave.
If a person is found to be restricted they will be pulled of the flight if not detained at the boarding gate and the reason for the "one hour"* early rule for international flights, allowing time for the behind the scenes process to take place.
*Airlines are not permitted to issue a boarding pass to international passengers if they arrive at the counter less than one hour before the flight is scheduled to leave.