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Texas man sentenced for transporting drugs by plane

A 64-year-old Texas man was sentenced to three years in federal custody on Sept. 22 for transporting 230 pounds of marijuana from Oregon to Arizona in a private aircraft. Reports indicate that he was apprehended by authorities on March 30 after landing at Llano Municipal Airport. Agents from the Department of Homeland Security were assisted during the operation by officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety and deputies from the Llano County Sheriff's Office.

Federal agents say that they became suspicious when the man's plane began to follow a suspicious flight pattern shortly after taking off from an airfield in Medford, Oregon. Agents tracked the plane as it stopped to refuel in Arizona before continuing on its way. The Piper Comanche then flew on to Texas where it attempted to land at two small airfields according to authorities, but the man at the controls aborted both landings after noticing police and other law enforcement personnel awaiting his arrival

. Agents say that the man attempted to flee the scene on foot after landing in Llano. A subsequent search of the aircraft is said to have yielded 230 pounds of marijuana in vacuum-sealed packages stored in 15 duffel bags. The man was facing up to four decades behind bars before entering into a plea agreement. In addition to serving a 36-month custodial sentence, the plea deal requires the man to pay a $5,000 fine and surrender his plane.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys may seek to resolve cases involving drug offenses by negotiating plea agreements with prosecutors when the evidence against their clients is convincing. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws often leave judges with few options, and even nonviolent offenders can face decades in prison for possessing significant quantities of illegal drugs. However, pursuing serious drug cases is costly for prosecutors and always involves an element of risk, and they may be willing to reduce, consolidate or dismiss charges in return for a speedy resolution and a guaranteed outcome.

Source: My San Antonio, "Feds say 64-year-old pilot transporting 230 pounds of pot was headed for S.A.-area airport", Caleb Downs, March 21, 2017

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