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Viewing cable 09SANJOSE807, COSTA RICA: MERIDA SPOT REPORT #2: FBI CAFE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09SANJOSE807 2009-09-23 13:01 2011-03-08 16:04 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy San Jose
Appears in these articles:
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasDestacadas/Investigacion2702320.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotaPrincipal/Investigacion2702324.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702325.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702326.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702327.aspx
VZCZCXYZ0017
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0807/01 2661346
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231346Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1225
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEABND/DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMIN HQ WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000807 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR WHA/CEN, INL/LP 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PINR SNAR CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA: MERIDA SPOT REPORT #2: FBI CAFE 
EVALUATION VISIT 
 
REF: A. ANDREW/JOHNSON EMAIL 21 SEPTEMBER 
     B. SAN JOSE 772 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY.  From September 1-3, an FBI fingerprint 
team evaluated Costa Rica's various fingerprint programs as 
part of the Merida Initiative's Central American Fingerprint 
Exchange (CAFE).  While noting the diverse levels of 
sophistication of Costa Rica's fingerprint programs depending 
on the ministry or organization, the FBI team concluded that 
Costa Rica had a basic and working, if not up to date and 
stove-piped, system.  The team recognized that Costa Rica's 
various institutions needed to better coordinate and have 
better connectivity in order to develop a strong domestic 
fingerprint program.  As a result of this visit, the FBI will 
provide a request for proposal (RFP) over the next several 
months via the CAFE program.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (SBU) As part of the USG's Merida Initiative in Costa 
Rica, which includes improving policing/police equipment 
(reported Ref B) and prison management, the FBI's George 
Saymon and Michael Pettry as well as our regional LEGAT Paris 
Johnson visited several Costa Rican law enforcement and civil 
institutions to kick off the CAFE evaluation: 
 
 -- Judicial Police Agency (OIJ), a rough equivalent to the 
FBI, which in Costa Rica's case falls under the judicial 
branch. 
 
 -- National Civil Registry, the Costa Rican institution that 
produces a national identification card for every citizen and 
is part of a semi-autonomous government organization that 
runs Costa Rica's elections (Supreme Electoral Tribunal-TSE). 
 
 -- Ministry of Public Security (MPS), the ministry charged 
with both domestic and national security as Costa Rica 
abolished its military in 1948. 
 
 -- Ministry of Justice (MOJ), which runs the country's 
prison systems. 
 
 -- Immigration, part of MPS but operates separately from the 
regular uniformed police. 
 
--- 
OIJ 
--- 
 
3. (SBU) The FBI team found that the OIJ had an older, but 
still effective Automated Fingerprint Identification System 
(AFIS) in their facilities.  Jorge Rojas, the OIJ Director, 
told us they were planning to upgrade their AFIS soon to be 
able to hold more fingerprints as well as have an interface 
that would link criminal records to fingerprint records. 
(The AFIS currently has 156,000 records; upgrade would give 
database up to 300,000).  Their new AFIS system would also 
come with 10 remote locations, he said, but OIJ would prefer 
to have 25 more terminals to cover their regional stations. 
The OIJ also maintains a paper back-up system to their AFIS. 
 
4. (SBU) Rojas told us that while the regional goal of CAFE 
was important, it was more important that Costa Rica fully 
develop and strengthen its domestic fingerprinting system 
first.  He noted that of all of the Costa Rican government 
entities that use fingerprints for one purpose or another, 
his organization needed to have better connectivity to the 
Ministry of Public Security and Immigration.  Once those 
links were solidified and they had a good system in place, 
Rojas added, Costa Rica would be a better regional 
fingerprint-sharing partner.  FBI team member Saymon agreed 
that putting a strong, national fingerprint system in place 
first was important and he added that CAFE should be able to 
assist in that effort. 
 
5. (SBU) On the question of providing easy access to Costa 
Rica's fingerprint database to the U.S., OIJ Rojas signaled 
that it would need to be in compliance with the Costa Rican 
constitution and that, at the least, there would probably 
need to be a Memorandum of Agreement/Understanding (MOA/MOU) 
in place in order to do this.  He added that Costa Rica would 
expect reciprocity.  Saymon said he would provide a sample 
MOA/MOU that the USG has done in other countries as a model. 
 
--------------------------- 
MINISTRY OF PUBLIC SECURITY 
--------------------------- 
 
 
6. (SBU) MPS Vice Minister Marcela Chacon and Deputy Director 
of Costa Rica's uniformed police Kattia Chavarria provided 
the FBI team a thorough briefing and tour of MPS's 
fingerprint facilities.  While their fingerprint database is 
the largest in the country with over 3 million prints, it is 
in paper files only and not digitized.  The FBI team observed 
how MPS fingerprint technicians analyzed, stored, and filed 
their fingerprint cards.  VM Chacon, in referring to a 
MOA/MOU between the USG and GOCR (as noted in para 5 above) 
told us that the MOA could be more of a "Statement of Intent" 
and that it could fall under the auspices of the Merida 
Initiative or the 1962 Technical Assistance agreement between 
the U.S. and Costa Rica. 
 
----------- 
IMMIGRATION 
----------- 
 
7. (SBU) Mario Zamora, Director of Costa Rican Immigration, 
told us that his department was slowly upgrading their 
digitization capabilities to include fingerprinting 
technologies.  He said that of the 4.5 million inhabitants in 
Costa Rica, approximately 600,000 were foreigners and 
approximately 250,000-300,000 of them had an "irregular" 
status.  In addition, he said that Costa Rica had more than 2 
million tourist visitors each year. 
 
8. (SBU) One area that Immigration has made significant 
progress in is its legal permanent resident (LPR) card 
program.  It uses the same basic card that U.S. LPRs use (and 
made by the same company that the USG contracts with for LPR 
cards).  Zamora provided us with a tour of his facilities 
that included how they adjudicate, manufacture, and issue 
these new cards.  They use a two-print system with other 
biometric information, such as a photo and signature.  Zamora 
said his agency had already issued 135,000 of these new cards 
at a rate of approximately 10,000 cards a month.  They 
already have plans to upgrade this card with an embedded 
microchip that will contain personal information as part of 
their "Digitize Government" program. 
 
9. (SBU) Zamora agreed with OIJ Rojas' assessment that better 
connectivity was needed between Immigration, MPS, and OIJ. 
His main challenge, he said, was lack of resources. 
 
------------------- 
MINISTRY OF JUSTICE 
------------------- 
 
10. (SBU) Guillermo Ugalde, Director of the MOJ's 
Penitentiary Police, and his team provided us with a 
professional presentation detailing their need to upgrade 
their current paper fingerprint system to an AFIS-type of 
system.  (Per Ref A, we emailed this presentation to FBI 
regional attache Paris Johnson).  Ugalde said that currently 
they have 20 trained employees in the "Henry" fingerprint 
system but would need technological training if they were to 
get an AFIS system.  According to their estimates, to fully 
digitize their records and to implement AFIS would cost 
approximately $859,000. 
 
11. (SBU) Ugalde underscored that Costa Rica's prison 
population was growing in all of their 25 detention centers 
located around the country, in part due to recently passed 
security-reform laws including an organized crime law. 
Fourteen of those centers are "closed" (meaning inmates spend 
full time in jail) and have roughly 9100 prisoners; 11 of 
them are "open" centers where 820 prisoners work outside of 
jail during the day but sleep in jail facilities at night. 
Finally, they also have what they call a "community" program, 
somewhat similar to a parole system, with 5025 persons. 
Ugalde added that some of their prisoners were "high value" 
and very "visible" due to their connections to the FARC, and 
their presence was forcing Costa Rica to change/update their 
prison system. 
 
----------------------- 
NATIONAL CIVIL REGISTRY 
----------------------- 
 
12. (SBU) Marisol Castro, Director General of Costa Rica's 
National Civil Registry (NCR), appreciated the FBI visit and 
provided us a tour of their facilities.  Although not 
directly linked to Costa Rica's law enforcement agencies, the 
 
NCR maintains a fingerprint registry using two prints (each 
index finger preferably) linked to other identifying 
characteristics of all of Costa Rica's citizens.  When 
necessary, they do cooperate with OIJ and others in official 
investigations. 
 
---------- 
NEXT STEPS 
---------- 
 
13. (SBU) During a wrap-up meeting, FBI Saymon provided all 
of the GOCR organizations that we visited a review of what 
the FBI's (and others) next steps were to implement CAFE in 
Costa Rica: 
 
 -- Create an after action report (AAR) from this visit; 
 
 -- From this AAR, develop a program proposal that would take 
into account what fingerprint systems currently exist in 
Costa Rica, what methods of assistance might be available, 
and how to best meet the needs of both Costa Rica and the 
U.S.; 
 
 -- Once there is a program proposal, it would be cleared 
through the interagency process, including Post and GOCR; 
 
 -- Upon mutual agreement, the proposal would go to 
Department of State for public advertisement for a contract; 
 
 -- Once the contract has been awarded, then work could begin. 
 
14. (SBU) Based on this process, Saymon estimated that work 
would begin on the project near the end of 2010 or earlier 
depending on the speed of the contracting process.  He 
clarified that with the current Merida resources dedicated to 
Costa Rica for CAFE, only the strengthening of its domestic 
fingerprint capabilities would be addressed.  Additional 
funding, he said, would be required to integrate CAFE into a 
regional platform.  However, Saymon indicated that the FBI in 
the short term might be able to provide fingerprint training 
to Costa Rica. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
15. (SBU) Every GOCR agency appreciated the FBI fingerprint 
evaluation visit.  OIJ will most likely be the main 
organization that the FBI will be able to assist, with 
probable emphasis on being able to help them link into the 
fingerprint databases of MPS and Immigration.  However, MPS's 
fingerprint system is wholly based on paper, so assisting MPS 
in digitizing their records would seem to be appropriate. 
Additionally, the MOJ has a clear plan on the shelf and any 
assistance that the FBI can provide to it or any of the 
organizations, even if just sending training teams to 
demonstrate how to properly take fingerprints will benefit 
Costa Rica immensely. 
 
16. (U) Post appreciates the visit by the FBI evaluation team 
and looks forward to further cooperation. 
 
17. (U) FBI Saymon has cleared this report. 
BRENNAN