A private runway on a 6000-acre ranch in Costa Rica belonging to celebrity Paris Hilton was the scene of a major drug raid last week netting a half-dozen suspects in the middle of a multimillion-dollar drug deal.
According to intelligence and law enforcement officials in the beleaguered Central American country, agents of the Costa Rica Federal Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ) seized a single-engine Cessna that was idling on the runway as it was being loaded with 400 kilos of cocaine.
Inside the cockpit police made an unexpected discovery: almost $2 million in cash in notes of various denominations stuffed in plastic bags. Police were trying to determine who owned the plane, bearing an American tail number, N473EY, which officials said was phony. The plane, they said, had come from Mexico.
In addition to the six people arrested, authorities told local newspapers a manhunt was on for three additional suspects, including the ringleader.
Authorities said it was the third time the drug ring involved had used the runway for cocaine flights. The ring operated in Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico, they said.
OIJ director Francisco Segura told a press conference in the capital that the three-month long investigation had paid off handsomely with the discovery of drugs, money, co-conspirators, and a plane all at the same place and time.
Was Hamptons' power couple unwinding at the ranch?
Several days later, however, local buzz over the arrests at Hilton's working farm and ranch, called Rancho Horizonte, was all about her parents, Kathy and Rick Hilton, who were reportedly at the ranch when the raid took place.
“As if the seizure of a plane with nearly $2 million in cash and 400 kilograms of cocaine in Cañas, Guanacaste, wasn’t dramatic enough,” reported the English-language Tico Times, “a local Costa Rican newspaper has suggested that U.S. reality-TV star and hotel heiress Paris Hilton has a connection to the sting.”
The connection was first reported by Costa Rica daily Diario Extra. The paper quoted a local resident who stated Paris Hilton’s parents were at the ranch when it was raided by police. Residents told local reporters that Paris Hilton’s parents had been visiting the farm for years.
Richard Howard "Rick" Hilton is the grandson of Hilton Hotels founder Conrad Hilton. His wife, Kathy Hilton, a native of Los Angles, was an actress whose notable appearances included Bewitched, Family Affair, Happy Days, and The Rockford Files.
Owners not under suspicion at this time.
But the prosecutor, Liliana Zamora, added that the owners of the farm were not under suspicion of wrongdoing at this time.
According to the Costa Rican General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGCA), there are 90 registered private airstrips in the country. which operate without any police oversight. Weaknesses in control of private airfields aerodromes make them attractive targets for illegal activities.
Local resident Cristian Castillo, 37, told reporters the village is normally very quiet. “Here we go to bed at 8 pm. I did not know what was going on. When I found out I was scared. There were planes overhead and police patrols in the neighborhood.”
Ironically, Amnesia Ibiza is a rock-solid alibi
At the time of the bust, Paris Hilton herself was hosting her "Foam And Diamonds party" at Amnesia Ibiza, London’s Daily Mail reported, where, wearing a pair of over-sized black cat-eye sunglasses, a coral string bikini and sheer black cover-up skirt.
At some point during the evening, ice water from a Moet champagne cooler was being poured over her by an unidentified male as she took the ALS challenge.
As the investigation continued the suspects were all given six months preventive detention. Considering the nature of transnational crime, the prosecutor said more suspects likely remained at large.