Pilot arrested for smuggling drugs on private plane

A pilot is facing federal charges after more than 200 pounds of marijuana were found inside of his private plane. Authorities followed him throughout Central Texas before he landed and was arrested Monday.

A private plane leaving Medford, Oregon to Texas quickly hit the radar of federal authorities, who called the flight pattern "suspicious." The pilot, 64-year-old Wayne Brunet, had reportedly not filed any route for Sunday.

According to court paperwork, the aircraft landed in Holbrook, Arizona to refuel and continued on its way. The Air and Marine Operation Center then contacted Homeland Security special agents in San Antonio, alerting them the plane would likely land at the Bulverde Airpark.

Based on the flight pattern and the fact that the airport is both remote and unmanned, authorities suspected the plane was in the process of being used for smuggling narcotics. Special agents were waiting as the plane landed in Bulverde, only for it to quickly depart as they tried to approach the pilot.

The Air and Marine Operation Unit continued to monitor the flight path with the assistance of the Texas Department of Public Safety Air Unit. Then a second landing was made at Lago Vista Airport. Again, Brunet was encountered by law enforcement and quickly departed. At around midnight, the plane landed for a third time - at the Llano Municipal Airport. That's when Brunet got out and threw a large duffel bag into a grassy area along with his cell phone. He was then detained by the DPS Air Unit and found in possession of several vacuum-sealed packages of marijuana.

A search of the aircraft led to the discovery of an additional 14 duffel bags which also contained packages of marijuana. It was a total of 237 pounds. Investigators also recovered $6,000 in cash.

Monday morning federal authorities filed a criminal complaint against Brunet for possession with intent to distribute marijuana. If convicted, he faces between five to 40 years in prison. Brunet remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing on Thursday afternoon in Austin.


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