A court hearing is expected today for the Key West man who is facing a charge of promoting Costa Rica as a sexual tourism destination.
Meanwhile, his arrest at Juan Santamaría airport has generated a wave of fear among some U.S. expats here.
Contrary to a report in A.M. Costa Rica Monday, the man, Dave Strecker, was detained by judicial agents when he was leaving the country. A news story incorrectly said he was detained when arriving.
A friend said that Strecker, who is known as Cuba Dave, had been followed by judicial investigators for 12 days while he was in San José before his arrest. The friend said that Strecker told him by telephone from prison that the arresting agents showed him a surveillance video in which he could be seen visiting a number of the capital’s night spots.
Strecker is well known as a sex tourist who writes about his activities. He began taking a boat to Cuba in the 1990s, which is how he got his nickname.
The intensive investigation raises the possibility that his arrest is just the beginning of a crackdown on locations in the city that are fronts for prostitution. There also are popular spots where foreign tourists can easily meet women who engage in commercial sex transactions.
Strecker also wrote for a Web site, cubadave.com, in which he recounted his sex tourism activities. That site is now back up but not with the usual essays and photos of young women. The site is seeking money for Strecker’s defense. The man’s friend said that he is not wealthy and is a construction worker in the United States.
The hearing today is believed to consider if Strecker can be let out on bail while his case progresses. He is in the notorious San Sebastian prison in southern San José.
“When Dave was first arrested he spent the weekend in a jail cell with 12 other men and a backed up toilet,” the Web site says. “The same jail cell is only designed for holding four people.”
Strecker is the first person to be charged with promoting Costa Rica as a sex tourist destination. The law was passed only in 2012. The penalty is from four to eight years in prison.
“As a foreigner he will not be treated fairly by a justice system that is notoriously corrupt, and which has been denounced internationally for violating basic human rights,” said the cubadave.com Web site.
Other expats who run Web sites promoting sex tourism have left town.
A.M. Costa Rica has been critical of the law because it penalized individuals for telling the truth about Costa Rica. The country, indeed, has a thriving prostitution industry, and a part of it caters to foreigners.