A 46-year-old Bend man is in a Midwest jail, accused of piloting a plane loaded with marijuana in a cross-country flight that was busted during an alleged delivery stop at an Illinois airport late last month.
The Peoria Journal-Star reported that Canton, Ill., police got just 20 minutes warning from federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents that a plane flying from Oregon to North Carolina would drop off some marijuana at the airport there.
Plainclothes officers reached Ingersoll Airport on Canton?s western edge in time on May 27 to let the plane land, arrest its pilot, John Busche of Bend, and also catch another man, Leon Hamilton, 54, of Dahinda, Ill., driving toward the airport in a cargo van, who tried to speed away after noticing authorities, the newspaper reported.
The arrests and seizure of 78 pounds of marijuana went unannounced for nearly a month while the investigation continued, ?working it back to Oregon and out East, too,? said Canton Police Chief Dan Taylor.
Police found 13 pounds of marijuana in a suitcase on the twin-engine Piper Aztec and another 65 pounds elsewhere inside, with the help of a drug-sniffing dog, Taylor said.
The police chief said the seized marijuana had a street value of more than $450,000. Police also found a large (but undisclosed) amount of cash on the plane, he said. The plane was seized, along with Hamilton?s van and the cash, pending an asset forfeiture hearing.
Busche was held at the Fulton County Jail on $250,000 bond, facing felony drug charges that could bring up to 60 years in prison, if convicted, the paper said. He?s due for a pre-trial conference on July 5.
Hamilton was freed on bail after a May 31 court appearance, on a conspiracy charge.