Smuggling cellphones into Costa Rica's prisons is a booming business, and they're even training cats to do it

Business Insider | 10/9/2006 | InSight Crime
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Cell phone trafficking in Costa Rica prisons has become a lucrative and rarely punished business, allowing criminals to continue their illicit activities and letting crimes like extortion persist.

According to a report from La Nación, Costa Rican Penitentiary Police Chief Pablo Bertozzi said that criminal gangs have formed within the prisons and have made contact with Justice Ministry officials and others on the outside to have cell phones brought into the prison facilities.

Inmates - Cell - Phone - Prison - Once

The inmates can pay as much as $700 for each cell phone to smuggled into prison. Once inside, the gangs sell them at an even higher price that can reach upwards of $1,400.

The business is taking off, in part, because the prisoners or third parties cannot be criminally prosecuted for smuggling the phones in. According La Nación, such actions are not legally considered crimes. Instead, authorities can only punish the inmates with minor sanctions, such as warnings or transfers, or they can confiscate the phones.

Years - Cell - Phones - Prisons - Bertozzi

Over the past three years, 10,014 cell phones have been seized in Costa Rican prisons, and Bertozzi told La Nación that "it's always the same prisoners" who have them.

"We already have people … identified in that respect, people who replace the phone as if it were nothing, thanks to help from visits and corrupt officials," he added.

Year - Central - American - Nation - Cases

This year the Central American nation also saw two cases in which prisoners trained cats to bring cell phones into a maximum-security prison.

Cell phone availability in...
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