Monday, March 20, 2017

Texas pilot bound from Oregon pleads guilty to hauling drugs

A Texas man who took off from Medford in March with more than 200 pounds of marijuana in his plane landed and quickly took off again at two Texas airports after spotting law enforcement officers, but was nabbed when he landed at a third airport. 

Wayne Douglas Brunet, 64, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of possession with intent to distribute a mixture and substance “containing more than 50 kilograms but less than 100 kilograms of a detectable amount of marijuana” in U.S. District Court in Austin, according to court documents. Sentencing details were not immediately available, but Brunet could spend up to 20 years in prison and face up to $1 million in fines, court documents state.

The guilty plea stems from a March 19 incident, according to a federal affidavit. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and the Air and Marine Operation Center, observed a 1969 Piper PA-30 Comanche airplane — referred to as the “Subject Aircraft” in the document — “with a suspicious flight pattern” that took off from Medford, the affidavit says. The aircraft did not file a flight plan but had the “apparent intention to land at the Bulverde, Texas, airport, which is unmanned.”

″(The Air and Marine Operation Center) suspected that, based on the flight pattern of the Subject Aircraft and its apparent destination of a remote unmanned airport, that the Subject Aircraft was in the process of being used to smuggling (sic) narcotics, specifically hydroponic marijuana,” the affidavit reads.

The plane first landed in Holbrook, Arizona to refuel before continuing on to the Bulverde airport, where DHS federal agents saw it land. While trying to meet up with him, the plane “immediately departed.”

Federal officials continued to monitor the airplane, assisted by the Texas Department of Safety. They tracked it first to Lago Vista, Texas, where it attempted to land again but departed again after encountering law enforcement. At about midnight, the plane finally landed at the Llano Municipal Airport in Llano, Texas, the affidavit says. Once there, Brunet was observed throwing “a large duffel bag and his cellular phone into a grassy area” near the runway.

Brunet was detained, and federal agents found he possessed several vacuum-sealed bundles containing cannabis. They also found 14 duffel bags that contained about 237 pounds of the marijuana, also stored in vacuum-sealed bundles. Records show the airplane is registered to Brunet, the affidavit says.

How long Brunet had been in Oregon and where the cannabis came from was not available.

Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche, N422PC:

Federal authorities arrested Wayne Douglas Brunet felony drug charges after he landed a plane carrying 230 pounds of marijuana at Llano Municipal Airport.

Wayne Douglas Brunet

LLANO — Federal authorities arrested an Austin man March 20 after he landed a plane carrying 230 pounds of hydroponic marijuana at the Llano Municipal Airport, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Wayne Douglas Brunet, 64, faces a charge of felony possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Officials said the incident unfolded in the midst of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

According to an arrest affidavit, air traffic authorities initially tracked the pilot’s “suspicious flight pattern” March 19 from Medford, Oregon, to Texas.

Investigators then surveilled the plane’s activity within Texas, which included aborted landing attempts in Bulverde and Lago Vista as the suspect spotted law enforcement on the ground.

The plane eventually landed sometime before midnight March 19 at the Llano airport, the report stated.

“Upon bringing the subject aircraft to a stop, (the) defendant was observed quickly exiting the subject aircraft and throwing a large duffle bag and his cellular phone into a grassy area near the … runway,” according to a federal affidavit.

Authorities searched and found 14 more duffle bags “with an undisclosed number of vacuum-sealed packages containing a green leafy substance consist(ant) with marijuana,” the affidavit continued.

Investigators said the pilot attempted to flee but was apprehended on the tarmac by agents with the Texas Department of Public Safety Air Unit and the Llano County Sheriff’s Office.

Officers seized the illegal drugs and about $6,000 in cash. Authorities stated there were no other occupants of the plane.

If convicted of the drug charge, Brunet faces between five and 40 years in federal prison.

He remains in federal custody and is scheduled to appear before a U.S. magistrate March 23.

During the course of the investigation, several agencies, including the Horseshoe Bay Police Department and the Blanco County Sheriff’s Office, either assisted directly or remained on stand-by at their respective municipal airports.



Anonymous said...

Dopey Bastard. People will do anything for money.

Anonymous said...

I'd bet he picked up prostitutes while in town, and the marijuana was probably for the prostitutes. 

Anonymous said...

Are we sure the marijuana wasn't for pilots?

Anonymous said...

"How did that 230 pounds of marijuana get in my plane?"

Anonymous said...

The question now is how many times had he pulled this off before? That is a hell of a lot of marijuana for a first timer.

Anonymous said...

How else can one afford to put their youngins' through flight school?

Anonymous said...

He's so very docile, such a lapdog.

Anonymous said...

Let him walk with a slap on the hands. He was just trying to boost the economy as in other states that have legalized the stuff. At least he wasn’t running a 134 ½ operation flying pax illegally – as many do. I wonder how many times N422PC was out in the NorCal area. The tax he paid was in the avgas purchases. Outrageous!

Anonymous said...

"I dunno, fly casual!"

-Han Solo

Anonymous said...

They got his pot, his plane and $6 grand cash....punishment enough! let him go, his grandkids need him...LEGALIZE IT..prisons are for murderers, rapists and child molesters.

Anonymous said...

"They got his pot, his plane and $6 grand cash" - Damn Straight let him go with a smile! I think he learned his lesson. BTW, when he is out, there will be many angry, awful, pissed-off folks looking for him – because I don’t think he paid for the load yet! Trust me, they WILL want their $$$. Punishment enough!

Anonymous said...

Pilots smoking marijuana (on drugs), am I worried, hell yes!

Anonymous said...

Convict this punk and sentence him to actual time in an actual federal prison and publicize the bejesus out of it.

Anonymous said...

Just shoot the bastard!