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Owner of prominent Costa Rican massage parlor arrested on pimping charges

January 26, 2017

“Gringo Gulch” is getting smaller by the day.

The once-thriving hotbed of massage parlors and hookup bars in downtown San José saw another business shuttered Thursday afternoon after police raided the New Fantasy massage parlor in San José’s historic Barrio Amón district. The 60-year-old owner of the long-running New Fantasy was subsequently arrested on pimping charges, according to the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ).

The suspect owned the pension and would host prostitutes in his bar and massage rooms to offer sexual services in exchange for money. Since prostitution not a criminal activity in Costa Rica, there’s nothing illegal about that first part. However, the OIJ indicated that the suspect would take a 50 percent chunk of the money earned by the women in his establishment, which violates the country’s pimping laws.

San José Municipal Police officers said the business will remain closed and be handed over to the Public Ministry for the time being. This is at least the third time the massage parlor has been raided and closed down since it opened its doors 15 years ago.

An OIJ report said that Costa Ricans were charged a rate of ₡18,000 (about $35) per hour at the establishment, while foreigners were charged at least $50 per hour.

The raid comes on the heels of another well-known pension closing in the same neighborhood for ownership reasons.

“Gringo Gulch” is a common nickname for an area of San José replete with massage parlors and prostitution-friendly hotels popular with foreign male tourists.

These business owners have also been put on notice by a local court’s decision to sentence famed sex tourist David “Cuba Dave” Strecker to five years’ prison time. Strecker was convincted of illegally promoting Costa Rica as an international destination for sex tourists.

Strecker’s lawyer has told The Tico Times that an appeal has been filed and they are likely to receive a response next month.

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