One of Costa Rica’s Most Unique Museums….a gut-wrenching experience for some

Most foreign retirees no little about Costa Rica’s OIJ or Organismo de Investigación Judicial (Judicial Investigation Department). In Costa Rican slang it is known as Las Tres Letras (three letters). Founded in 1973 OIJ is special unit operated by the judicial branch of the government whose purpose is to investigate and solve crimes by using scientific methods, if necessary. Its functions are much more investigative than regular police work. The OIJ usually works undercover on the street, or during search and seizure operations or warrant enforcement uses bulletproof vests and black t-shirts with the words “PODER JUDICIAL” or “O.I.J.” in yellow lettering.


The unit is made up of separate departments which investigate fraud, homicides, sexual crimes, narcotics, and economic financial crimes. In addition, there is a forensic department to gather evidence during investigations and perform autopsies.

Few foreigners are aware that the OIJ also operates a Criminology Museum or Museo Criminológico, located in the same building as its headquarters, 2 1/2 blocks of south Calle 17 between Avenues 6 and 8 in downtown San José.

The museum is not for the faint of heart since it is filled with many displays including parts of bodies. Some people might even find the exhibits repulsive and very gory. Visitors will also see items used in crimes, videos, pictures, weapons, and a whole lot more.

Since this unusual museum is somewhat off the beaten path and due to its unusual content, it is not very popular among the tourists, expat retirees and locals. But those who are fascinated by criminology or want to check it out due to their curiosity, will find the museum a truly fascinating place. Whether you like it or not, you will definitely have a truly unique experience. For some a strong stomach is definitely a prerequisite.

Criminology Museum
Location: Second Floor, Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ), Avenues 6-8, South on Calle 17, San José, Costa Rica
Phone Number: 506/295-3850
Type: Museum
Admission Fee: Free of Charge.

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