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Pilot accused of drug possession on Houston-bound flight

A federal judge in Texas released a 49-year-old airline pilot charged with drug offenses on $50,000 bond after the man allegedly flew from Colombia to Houston with 62 bags of cocaine in his stomach. Officials said the pilot for a local regional airline was in uniform when he boarded the flight as a passenger. He then called police for assistance after his flight landed and one or more of the bags containing cocaine pellets broke in his stomach.

Police became aware of the cocaine possession after the pilot was taken to a local hospital. Pellets that the man began passing out of his system while at the hospital are alleged to have tested as cocaine. Law enforcement officials estimated the total weight of the cocaine ingested by the pilot to be about 150 grams, but they reported that only a portion of the total amount was recovered by police at the time that he was taken into custody.

After his release from custody, the accused pilot pushed aside a local television news cameraman and ran from a reporter who tried to ask him about the incident or the federal drug charges. The man is licensed to fly large commercial passenger planes, but the judge presiding at the initial court hearing ordered him not to pilot any planes while the case is pending.

Federal drug trafficking charges may result in severe criminal penalties if the accused individual is convicted. A commercial airline pilot might face additional penalties because of concerns regarding the safety of others. The Federal Aviation Administration might take action against the pilot that could include license suspension. A defense attorney may be able to arrange a plea bargain with the prosecution on behalf of their client.

Source: Click2Houston.com, "Pilot accused of ingesting drugs on flight charges Local 2 News crew", Joel Eisenbaum, May 29, 2014

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