An off-duty flight attendant came into police custody early Thursday because she had hidden $160,000 in U.S. currency on her person.
The woman, a Mexican identified by the last name of Rodríguez, was traveling on a passenger plane and faced arrest when she was in a taxi headed to a local hotel.
The Policía de Control de Drogas said that they became interested in the woman because she showed nervousness at the airport, but it appears that they were tipped off.
She was wearing straps that allowed her to carry stacks of $100 and $50 bills, police said.
In another revelation, police at Juan Santamaría airport said they saw the woman as they were involved in an effort to recover luggage taken from tourists.
Police have made no previous mention of a wave of luggage thefts at the airport. They said that Fuerza Pública officers from Alajuela set up police checkpoints around the airport to apprehend luggage thieves.
The woman arrived at 11:15 p.m. Wednesday on an Aeroméxico flight from México, police said.
It was not made clear how police determined the woman was carrying cash. The woman is 28 and faces a charge of money laundering. The Poder Judicial said that prosecutors sought six months of preventative detention.