Human Skeletal Evidence: Perspectives for Narcotrafficking Group Identification Through Modus Operandi from Costa Rica
Mcgee, Kash Nicole
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In recent years, global homicide rates have increased in startling proportion. The influence of narcotrafficking has impacted Latin American homicide rates causing them to rise to epidemic levels. In particular, Costa Rica represents a prime example of where a distinguishable correlation between the presence of narcotrafficking and an increase in homicides can be observed. Costa Rica has become an epicenter for violent crimes due to the influence of illicit drugs traveling through their country's permeable borders. With these growing rates of homicide, this study addresses a significant foundational research gap in understanding the modus operandi of narcotrafficking groups. The purpose of the study is to evaluate evidence of violence inflicted by narcotraffickers. Specifically, sharp force and ballistic trauma, such as dismemberment and gunshot trauma, found on skeletal remains were analyzed using an osteological sample of 6 individuals from the Medico-Legal Department in San Joaquín de Flores, Heredia, Costa Rica. Geographical location and narcotrafficking group association were assessed from the context of the reports. Using JMP Pro 12, Chi-square test models were performed correlating studied variables to the particular narcotrafficking group association and corresponding geographical location. The Chi-square test demonstrated that n Limon and Guanacaste, the predominant bone inflicted was the skull and in Heredia and San Jose, the femur and humerus were predominant with a statistical significance of p<0.0001*. It also demonstrated that the skull is a predominant area of infliction for suspected gang groups while the femur, humerus and skull are predominant areas of infliction for suspected narcotraffickers with a statistical significance of p<0.0001*. the Chi-square testing did not show a statistical difference between type of bone and the corresponding length of the trauma observed. To date, no other investigation of this nature has been performed within a Costa Rican sampling population.