Authorities raid two San José massage parlors; arrest two on pimping charges

January 23rd, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) Agents of the Sex Crimes Unit of the Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ) and municipal police officers raided two San José massage parlors yesterday afternoon, arresting two men on charges of pimping and related offenses.

 

The raids came after a yearlong investigation, according to authorities.

 

At about 1 p.m. agents carried out simultaneous raids on the massage parlors, one located in Barrio La Pitaya in Paseo Colon and the other at 8th Avenue and 7th Street in downtown San José.

 

Arrested in the raids were Wagner Ng Tse, a 45-year-old Chinese national identified by authorities as one of the operations’ owners, and a Costa Rican man identified by the last names Rafael Zúñiga, 40.

 

In addition, a woman with an outstanding arrest warrant for illegal possession of a firearm was detained at the Paseo Colon location. Authorities confiscated some ¢300,000, a 40-caliber firearm, computers, and other evidence.

 

Authorities found at least 25 woman at the premises.

 

Both of the massage parlors were marked only with a sign reading “360” outside their doors.

 

While prostitution is legal in Costa Rica, the act of pimping is illegal.

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  • disgusted

    I think you can make the case for all the massage parlors,Hotels and night clubs for pimping. I suspect most take a cut one way or another charge a “‘room rental fee”. Takes a YEAR to figure this out!

  • Ken Morris

    I agree with disgusted, but more strongly. Of course all these places are pimping operations, and I can figure that out in 5 minutes. I suppose though that the authorities enjoyed their yearlong investigation.

    On a side note, I’m pleased to learn that at least one of the women apparently had a gun. I don’t blame her for that or for having it illegally. The cost and hassle of obtaining a permit put guns out of reach for even the Tico middle class, so I would imagine that most brothel employees really can’t afford one. Who though needs a gun for self-defense more than someone reduced to working in a seedy brothel?

    • Rochard

      What are you talking about the “cost and hassle of obtaining a permit put guns out of reach”? You don’t know what you are talking about. What is the “cost and hassle”?

      • Ken Morris

        I don’t know what I’m talking about? Well, caballero, I personally started the process over 11 months ago, took and passed three tests almost as long ago, made 7 trips to various offices, and paid around $300 in fees, but am STILL WAITING for my permit. My lawyer tells me that the relevant authority will email me when the permit is ready, although something tells me that the permit will never arrive. Add to this the fact that legal guns are very expensive in CR–prices much higher than the US–and the average person is easily looking at a month’s salary plus lots of hassle and wait to get a gun.

        This is probably a main reason why some two-thirds of the guns in CR are estimated to be illegal. The poor and the middle class simply can’t afford it. It’s much cheaper to buy a gun on the street.

        It’s also incredibly boneheaded gun policy. Smart gun policy would lower both the price and the hassle with the goal of getting the guns registered in order to focus on the people who really shouldn’t have guns.

        It would be the extremely rare brothel employee who could afford to have a legal gun, thus those that have them have them illegally.

        Basically, gun policy in CR has the effect (and perhaps the intention) of either prohibiting the poor and the middle class from owning guns or criminalizing if they do, all the while the rich get them, plus can hire armed guards, and government employees get three without so much as having to pass a competency test. Whatever a person’s views on citizen gun ownership, CR’s laws are wrongly skewed against the poor and the middle class, which can’t be right.

        BTW, the bill wending its way through the legislature will double both the fees and the hassles required to get a permit.

        It’s all a matter of people with guns wanting to prevent others from having them. Accordingly, I delight in news that a brothel employee has one illegally. I’m on her side.

        • Rochard

          Thats funny, because I took the test one day (written, shooting and psychology) in a matter of a couple hours, paid a total of like $80 for everything and went and got fingerprints and delinquencia letter (total for both about $4 just for the pics needed for the fingerprints) and then went to a store and bought a gun then got a call a few weeks later to pick up that gun and went to pick up the paperwork at the Armas office then presented that at the gun store to pick up the gun. Actually a very simple process (minus the lineup at Armas which has now gone digital so much easier and all you need is a digital signature from a bank) and total cost well under $100 even with parking, gas etc… So, I don’t know why you used a lawyer for this. Sounds like you are on the wrong track with this.

          • Ken Morris

            Like most things in CR, YMMV. I did the written, range, and shrink test the same day too (last February), although it was the bulk of the day, not a “couple hours.” The fingerprints and the delinquencia letter were also easy, although they were two additional trips.

            However, when it came to picking up the results of my tests at the place near Sabana Park, I got a serious runaround, in addition to the lines. I had to go three times simply to obtain the results, which I’d already passed and paid for (including buying the stamps from the vendor outside). Lucky for you that the clerk actually gave you the results. What would you do if they told you “mañana”?

            As for the lawyer, well, hate to be too revealing, but I bought my gun (yes, ironically, I have the gun) from a private seller, so we had to go through a lawyer. The gun shops have them on call, and you paid for a lawyer whether you know it or not.

            As for what happened next, you tell me. The lawyer said I would have the permit in a couple of weeks. Three months later I was called back to fill out another form. Three months after that she was puzzled when I asked her about my permit, and told me I should receive an email–though I guess if I were as smooth as you it would be a phone call.

            I see from your description that you drove to handle your affairs–this already puts you in the top 25% of the population–and bought from a gun store, where you paid more for the included legal fees and so forth.

            So I guess I have to agree that I’m on the wrong track. Surely the process goes smoother when you do it your way. Although maybe you just got lucky.

            Meanwhile, I’ve been offered guns on the street–$300 for “clean” and $150 for maybe not (with the strong advice that I pay the surcharge for “clean” unless I want to go directly to jail). I have the financial luxury of being able to pass on both in favor of being legal, which alas I’m not exactly anyway, but I have a pretty good idea which way I’d go if I were earning $14 or less a trick.

            And yeah, it’s all conveniently online now–another fee (and trip to an internet cafe for lots of people). Maybe the authorities want me to enroll in that shit now, even though it didn’t exist when I started and it’s only their delays that extended the process beyond the fancy online system’s introduction. Who really knows what they want?

            I sure as hell don’t. I paid the fees, passed the tests, got all the documents, even bought the gun, but I don’t have a permit.

            You bet I’m on the wrong track. My mistake was to follow the law.

          • Bob89406

            wonder why Ken has so much problems and the rest of us simply follow the rules and have none – think about that Ken

          • Ken Morris

            This is precisely my irritation, that people like you assume that I haven’t followed the rules. How would you possibly know? I defy you to identify a document, test, fee, or whatever that I failed to complete/pass/pay on time with stamps, notary seals, and whatever.

            Clearly one of two things is going on: Either a clerk somewhere along the line screwed up or the system has difficulties handling private party sales. Of the two, my guess is a clerk screw up. My file probably got put in the wrong place or something like that.

            Which of course never happens in a CR government bureaucracy, so go ahead and blame me.

          • Rochard

            Maybe they have been reading your rants here and just want to mess with you (I would)

          • Bob89406

            even the most mistake prone clerk can sense “attitude” Ken and if your in person approach is anything like your attacks here, then we have an idea why your paperwork might get lost

          • Ken Morris

            Great comeback, Bob, especially including the editorial “we.” Next time you encounter a problem with a bureaucracy, just remember it’s your own fault because your attitude was sensed.

          • Frank Castle

            Ken, you and I have talked about the CR/Nicaragua border issue and you seem reasonable enough to me, even though we have had our differences in opinion, but, who hasn’t. When I do get down to CR or maybe Panama (not sure which I like better), I will go thru the system to buy guns in either country but I do plan on bringing in, not following the law, a couple of others, discreetly hidden in my car. I believe as a good self defense as a human right.

          • Ken Morris

            Wow, Frank, don’t know about Panama, but if you don’t already have permanent residency in CR (a step beyond both rentista and pensionado) you can’t legally own (or therefore import) a gun to CR. Also, while personally bringing a gun into CR is doable legally if you have the permit (which again you can’t have without permanent residency), it’s a real hassle, especially if it’s a gun you already own rather than one you buy via a gun shop already set up to handle the paperwork.

            Regarding bringing in illegally, you’re obviously on your own. My total sense from border crossings is that it would be a slam dunk. You could almost wear one on your belt and nobody would notice. However, don’t they have gun-sniffing dogs nowadays? And if you got caught, you might not like the consequences. I think this is one of those odds issues in which the likelihood of getting caught is low, but the penalties for getting caught are high.

            Also, as far as street guns are concerned, you have to develop relationships of trust with street people first. I would imagine that Rochard has no such relationships, since he believes black market guns are more expensive than retail guns (they aren’t) but you have to be trusted by the guys who know the guys before they’ll risk selling a gun (unless I suppose you want to grossly overpay). So buying illegally usually takes some time and relationship cultivation. Ideally, of course, you’d cultivate the relationship anyway, and buying a gun is thus incidental.

            As an aside, the best guys to have relationships with are either Nicas or Ticos from Limón. I don’t mean to disparage Nicas, but they are used to hustling to do “biznis” and with some it doesn’t hurt to have Sandinista credentials. You have to show you’re a “Nica lover” before they’ll trust you. The Ticos from Limón, well, many are used to the gun trade.

            Also, I suppose, selection is more limited for street guns. It depends upon what the friend of a friend has or comes across. They don’t have display windows or receive shipments of the latest models.

            Anyway, I don’t know your situation, but if guns are a main concern and you aren’t already a permanent resident or citizen of CR, you might want to look at Panama. You won’t be able to buy one legally in CR for many years, it takes almost as long to cultivate relationships with street guys to buy one illegally, and toting them across the border illegally could turn into a real nightmare if caught. The penalties are stiff, and you might go directly to jail.

          • Rochard

            Well this is precisely the problem Ken, you deviated from the system. Trying to buy a gun privately or import one is a futile attempt. Go to the store like everybody else and you would have your permits. No lawyer can help you, only a gun store.

          • Ken Morris

            Sorry to come on so strong, but I am quite irritated with the process and become more irritated when I’m faulted for mistakes made by others.

            But to another point, since I keep neurotically detailed records of my spending, I can tell you that my cost to date for a gun permit, excluding the gun itself, is $249. This cost does include $75 for a lawyer, although some portion of that fee was earmarked to pay required government fees. Minus the lawyer and associated fees, my cost is $174. Included in this are three short cab fares, since there were three destinations I couldn’t reach easily on foot or by bus, but except for these the $174 is made up of required fees and bus fares.

            I believe you are mistaken about the upfront test fees being only $80, at least if you include psychological exam. The mistake may arise from your likely making a deposit into a bank account prior to the tests and then only paying the $80 more on the testing date, but I assure you that these fees are higher. The other fees like for stamps and photos are incidental, but they add up.

            Also, while they are incorrect, some people believe that they need to take a firearms course before taking the tests. Other people frankly need to take the course. Anyone who takes the course will obviously have higher fees.

            Not long ago La Nación ran a story giving the breakdown of the fees, and reached a total more than I paid. This is no real surprise to me, since I’m a cheapskate and cut costs everywhere I can. According to La Nación, though, the typical applicant pays more than I paid.

            Be this all as it may, I can’t imagine a brothel employee getting a gun permit for less than the $174 I paid (prior to paying the fees associated with the gun purchase), and I suspect my cost is more representative, since she would likely take buses and an occasional taxi too. This is surely a week’s earnings for most of them, maybe more, and I can’t imagine many of them being able to afford it.

            But this is before she buys the gun (and pays the legal fees associated with that). You probably know better than I, but when I looked in gun shops I didn’t see anything for sale for under around $300, and everything under around $400 was dangerous junk. If memory serves, I believe La Nación estimated the cost of a low end but decent gun at around $450, and based upon my nosing around, that looks about right.

            The practical issue here is whether a brothel employee will pay around $600 – $700 for a legal gun or $150 – $300 for an illegal one (probably sold to her on informal payments). I think we both know the answer to that: She’ll buy the cheaper illegal gun.

            The policy issue is that by making the cost of a legal gun this expensive, CR is actually encouraging the black market in illegal guns (some obtained by robbing police stations). Smart policy, at least if we favor gun regulation (which I do) would be to lower the costs and hassles of obtaining a gun legally in order to encourage compliance by people like brothel employees. I don’t know what this policy should be exactly, but as a rule of thumb I would suggest making a gun permit about the same price and hassle as a driver’s license.

            A related policy issue is gun shop prices. Since street guns are considerably less expensive than gun shop prices, we can infer that the market prices for legal guns are inflated by some government policies. Plainly these policies should be changed. IMO, CR should also stop melting down perfectly good guns in ceremonial displays of so-called pacifism. This just restricts supply and thus both drives up prices and increases the black market gun trade. I also wonder what CR is doing with the 14,000 revolvers it is retiring from the police force. If these were sold on the legal domestic market, gun prices would drop, the government would make money, and people like our brothel employee would have legal access to a perfectly decent gun.

            The moral issue has to do with pricing the poor and even the middle class out of gun ownership. If citizen gun ownership is considered at all desirable, which I think it is (at least to a point), the poor and the middle class shouldn’t be thwarted from legal gun ownership by arbitrarily high prices. Indeed, if self-defense justifies gun ownership, these folks are more apt to need a gun than most others. No, I don’t recommend subsidizing gun ownership for the poor and middle class, but I strongly favor limiting arbitrary financial barriers.

            On the surface, I suspect what is going on in CR is that a lot of people wrongly believe that citizen gun ownership increases gun violence, and therefore want to limit it wherever they can by ratcheting up the costs and requirements. However, without raising the tired debates (and since readers here seem to be gun owners) the reading I have done shows this policy strategy to be founded on more myth than fact. There isn’t much of a relationship between gun ownership and gun violence one way or another.

            But while this is the surface rationale, I suspect that the underlying rationale is simply prejudice against the poor. Basically, people don’t want poor people specifically to have guns, even though this is based on pure prejudice rather than fact.

            I therefore see brothel employees with illegal guns as engaged in a little welcome civil disobedience, albeit surely not intentionally. It should force people to appreciate that gun policy in CR is class biased and counterproductive.

            $249 is too much to expect a person to pay for the privilege of buying a gun legally from a legal seller, and forcing an applicant for a permit to make a minimum of five trips to different locations is too much hassle. Of course, it’s even worse in presumably isolated cases like mine in which the government clerks screw up, but even the smoothest sailing is excessive. If the fees were lowered to like $50 and registration were a one-stop process, then I would expect brothel employees to have only legal guns. Now I can’t expect it and find the illegal guns welcome civil disobedience.

          • Rochard

            OK so the psych test is $40 and the actual shooting and written test was $40. I had to get 2 photos outside the the fingerprint office which cost $4 from a street vendor, so there you go, $84. I actually parked across the street in the plaza for free, so no paid parking, since you are counting every cent here. Yes there is a legal fee per gun you buy and the store normally includes that or charges like $10 for it, they just have to authenticate the signature.

          • Ken Morris

            Could the fees vary by location or have risen? My records, which admittedly are chicken scratch, show that I paid $60 for a “gun exam” on Friday February 22nd, which if memory serves was deposited into a bank account, and $74 for a “shrink” the following Monday at the exam (along with $16 for bus and cab fares, bringing that day’s total to $150). I just used the “shrink” who was onsite. Maybe there are cheaper ones and I got taken, but lots of others were lining up for the test there so I figured that was the way to do it.

            As for counting every cent, your real transportation cost includes the cost of the vehicle, depreciation, insurance, etc. Mine are surely more representative of those paid by the poor and middle class, since they don’t own cars.

            You are right, as I recall, that the gun shops only charge $10 for the lawyer, so my $75 lawyer fee was a lot higher. However, I was also saving $200 off the price of the gun and there seemed to be a fair amount of legal paperwork that the gun shops probably have ready and thus indirectly pass along to their customers in higher prices.

          • Rochard

            Black market guns are more expensive than the gun store guns, just so you know. I’m all for guns and don’t go anywhere without one but I’m also highly trained in all aspects of shooting and situational awareness as well as gunsmithing. With ammo being so expensive in this country, you need to be at least middle-upper class to even practice shooting and thats without a professional instructor. So the hooker, who is likely a drug addict, with a gun in the brothel is not a reassuring thought to me. Everybody has a right to defend themselves but the thing about guns is does your right to defense exceed my right not to be shot as a potentially innocent bystander?

          • Ken Morris

            Well, you’re mistaken about black market gun prices in CR, and IMO unfairly mistaken about hookers likely being drug addicts. I don’t understand how you can say these kinds of things and then characterize what I say as “rants.” Perhaps it’s because you express your erroneous opinions with calm authority?

            Fair point about the cost of ammo (though the solution is obviously to lower the cost) and wanting those with guns to be sufficiently trained to be responsible with them. However, we seem to disagree over how to achieve this goal. You seem to be content to try to keep guns out of the hands of the poor, while I want to lower the barriers of responsible legal gun ownership for them. I think I win this debate, since as this story and lots of data show, high barriers to responsible legal gun ownership don’t prevent the poor from being armed but rather encouraged them to be armed with illegal weapons, no practice, etc.

        • disgusted

          I took the course in 2006. Had to deposit money BCR.I got my finger prints, Copies of my cedula notary, Pictures then Went to the old stadium that was were the gun range was. Took the day going over safety and the laws.Shooting skill at 6 meters hit the typing paper at least 7/10 shots. Following week took the test written even had a police officer go over the questions in English I was prepared in Espanol. The test was graded on the spot once I completed it I took the gun range test passed then I did the Psych test. Went to the Armas and explosiveness I think 2 weeks wait then and got my license. Sure long lines and a hassle. Now every 2 years renewal fresh finger prints, psych test and some stamps wait in line over now in Sabana.. I think my next time will be electronic signature I hope it is easier and not a half day.

          As for weapons everything expensive was a 3 day wait then now a 3wk wait apparently they fire one bullet from the gun and keep it for “‘just in case”.

          • Ken Morris

            Out of curiosity, did you buy a gun from a gun shop in CR? The process seems a lot smoother that way.

            Among other things, I have no idea how anyone will fire a bullet out of my gun, since they don’t have it. The transaction took place in the lawyer’s office. Yet nobody has contacted me to tell me to bring it in, or to tell me anything frankly.

            I’m also concerned about renewal, which I obviously won’t be able to do if I never receive the permit.

            Since I have copies of all the documents, I’m pretty sure I’m legal, but it could turn into a situation in which I’m first arrested and then have to go to court with the documents in order to show that my lack of an actual permit is the fault of a clerk somewhere.

            I’m really exasperated though. It’s like passing the driver’s tests and paying the fees only never to receive the actual license.

            The process is probably geared to gun shops and security companies, with private sales falling through the cracks.

          • disgusted

            Ken , I bought my weapon at the gun store. They had me go over to a place and get a print out that there no claims and or action against me. Copies of my permit, pictures 2 . They did the rest. I got the pistol back and inside was a spent cartilage. . I was informed they fired one bullet and keep this. I purchased at EPM,,, Near the court house at the Pet store upstairs called Enchandi. If I had your email I could give you more info. Go to costaricaliving and make a post then I can contact you.

          • Ken Morris

            Thanks, I’m at kennumbers@zoho.com and obviously love to chat, though am not looking to buy a gun. I already have the gun, legally I presume, plus a pile of paperwork attesting to its legality, just haven’t received the actual permit. I was just asking because it seems like those who purchase through gun stores don’t encounter the hassles I’ve had with the permit.

          • Rochard

            Accurate description. The test is now the same as is the 2 year renewal. No need to deposit money in BCR anymore however, so its getting easier and easier (for those who follow instructions well).

  • Andrew

    Hey Ken:
    How do you know they get $14 a trick?
    You a client?

    • Ken Morris

      Actually, I suspect they get less than $14 a trick at these places, but since I’m not familiar with these particular places, I used the $14 cut the hookers get at one of the costlier brothels (Molina Roja) as a likely high estimate. I know this amount because I have a hooker friend who told me. A client wouldn’t know the amount, since the clients pay more than the providers receive, but I’ve been tracking the sex industry here and elsewhere for years and whenever possible try to learn the facts about it. Personally, while I don’t oppose prostitution, I do oppose pimping, so no am not a client. I have visited a lot of the brothels though.

      • Rochard

        You sound like a real upstanding member of the community, Ken…

        • Ken Morris

          So what are you doing to confront the systemic exploitation of women in CR, toting your gun in case you want to shoot one your prejudice assures you is a likely drug addict?

          Let’s review your jabs at or about me in the order I see them posted:

          1. “You don’t know what you are talking about.” Gee, this was a sweet opening, almost certain to forge a lasting friendship. Problem is, I do know what I’m talking about and you have the facts wrong.

          2. “You are on the wrong track.” I guess you’re not vying for the diplomacy award, since it doesn’t seem to occur to you that a politer way to phrase this would be something like, “Perhaps you should try a different approach.”

          3. The permit process is “getting easier and easier (for those who follow instructions well).” Actually, the law under consideration makes it a lot harder, so again you are mistaken, although I understand the parenthetical to mean that I can’t follow instructions, as if you would know. This is a real cheap shot,

          4. “You deviated from the system. Trying to buy a gun privately or
          import one is a futile attempt. Go to the store like everybody else.” Read charitably, as I was initially inclined to do, this is a nice ironic observation. The system does seem to be geared to gun stores. However, it shouldn’t be and this isn’t what the law says, and you’re wrong about “everybody else.” By this phrase you mean people like you, not most gun owners in CR. Are you this much of a conformist that you believe that a person who follows the law but does so differently is a deviant?

          5. “Maybe they have been reading your rants here and just want to mess with you (I would).” Actually, you began trying to mess with me, a quite rude response to my initial comment (you were factually incorrect on top of it), and I can’t understand the source of your venom. What are you pissed at? I simply mentioned an issue about gun policy in CR that I believe is mistaken. You are free to disagree with me, but why attack me personally from your first post?

          My advice to you is to put your guns in a drawer for a full month and navigate life without them. Most people after all go about life unarmed. I suggest this because in my experience gun guys sometimes use their guns to offset a deficiency in social skills. Unfortunately, this seems to fit you. You are very impolite, and when wrong, simply increase the insults. It’s as if you want to assert your superiority, even though it is unmerited, and I would imagine carry a gun to make sure you maintain it. Go ahead, I dare you: Go without a gun for a month and see if you can learn to interact with people based upon equality and reason. Heck, you might even learn some manners.

          Mind, I could care less about you. We aren’t friends and never will be. All I care about is my community. Your presence in it worsens it, so it’s in my self interest for you to learn how to be a less offensive member.

          As for the brothels, except for suspecting that it would diminish your prejudice if you simply knew a few hookers, even as I suspect that if you got out of the motor vehicle with which you delight in getting free parking it would help you understand the bulk of the population that doesn’t drive, I don’t give a flip what your judgmental prejudices might be. Unfortunately, I have yet to meet an expat (which I assume you are from your English) who isn’t part of the problem, but who knows, maybe you are the exception. If you are an exception, then far be it from me to question your ignorant aloofness. To my mind, people can’t be expected to dog every issue, especially those they aren’t a part of. However, again, most expats are part of the problem, and at minimum as members of the community might want to inform themselves about it.

          Not least, I think this started with my mentioning that anyone who earns $14 a trick, and is usually raising children on that, might not be well served by a policy that requires them to pay a couple hundred bucks, give or take, plus make a minimum of five trips to various offices to get a legal gun permit, all before buying an overpriced gun, in order to protect themselves. Your counterargument seems to be that they’re drug addicts and the poor shouldn’t have guns anyway. This is your position (stripped of course of the personal insults), isn’t it? Let’s just be clear where you stand: You deserve a gun because you have enough money not to care about the costs; those who must care about the costs, don’t have your same gun rights.

          Here’s a deal: If you want to insult me one more time, I’ll give you a free shot. Go ahead, post that I’m erotically attracted to goldfish–I don’t care what you say–and I’ll let you have the last word. Honestly, you’re not worth my time. There’s so much remedial instruction you need that I couldn’t begin to help you. So take a free shot.

          Even enlist your friend Bob. Actually, he’s better at this than you, since he couches his insults in a kind of social-worker “can’t we all get along” therapeutic rhetoric. He comes off as a nice guy while being mean-spirited. I’ll give him a free shot too.

          But if you want two free shots, take it off the posts. I have listed my email, go ahead and insult me there.

          Or–here’s an idea–if you want to discuss the issues, feel free to post, and if I have thoughts to add, I’ll post them.

          I’m just sick and tired of your uniformed and thoughtless arrogant insults.

          • Rochard

            Thats a good excuse for being a fat whore monger. Yes Ken, you support single mothers who work in brothels. Good for you buddy. I think we are done here…