Judicial agents detained a 50-year-old man and accused him Wednesday of running a house of prostitution at his bar in Guápiles.
The man was not identified, but the business is Bar y Hotel el Viajero, based on a photo provided by the Judicial Investigating Organization.
Although such operations are common all over Costa Rica, at the Guápiles operation the women lived on site. Agents said that they received a token from each customer that they would redeem at the end of the week.
There were 17 women there when agents entered. They said that 10 were Dominican, one was Nicaraguan and the rest were Costa Rican. They were between the ages of 20 and 30 agents said.
Agents said that the prostitution operation was open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and that customers were charged 10,000 colons for each half hour of sexual activity. That amount is a bit less than $18.
El Viajero is in a 200-meter section of Guápiles about 100 meters east of the soccer stadium. The section is popularly called the zona rosa because of the illicit activity.
Curiously even in a 2007 news article in La Nación reporters said there were several such places of prostitution in that area. The news was that a new police station was being set up there to reduce street crime.
Using tokens to keep track of prostitution clients is a bit anachronistic in these days of computer-assisted accounting. Such techniques were popular in the West of the United States in the early part of the 20th century.
Upton Sinclair called his 1919 self-published book on shoddy
journalism “The Brass Check,” branding news people with the reference to the brass tokens typical of houses of prostitution then.
Prostitution, of course, is not prosecuted in Costa Rica, but pimping is. However, there are many such operations, and many women say they prefer to work in one because of the personal security and regular hours There was no indication why agents targeted this particular location.
The arrest Wednesday was made by the Sección Delitos Contra la Integridad Física Trata y Tráfico.