March 5, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Drug Traffickers Departed from Santa Monica Airport:

After taking off from Santa Monica Airport, authorities in Pontiac, Ill. intercepted a small airplane containing 340 pounds of marijuana on May 3.

The pilot in the incident, Alan Luster, a 46-year-old male from Marietta, Ga., has frequently flown out of Santa Monica Airport (SMO), said Sgt. Jay Trisler, Public Information Officer for the Santa Monica Police Department.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security tracked the 1971 twin-prop Beechcraft after taking off from SMO, but became suspicious when it’s flight plan was altered and information on its take-off location and destination were determined to be fraudulent. Originally destined for Ohio, Luster and his passengers landed at the Pontiac Municipal Airport at 3:12 p.m. on May 3 due to bad weather.

Local authorities were notified before the plane landed in Pontiac by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and officers from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service arrived by jet shortly after. Local police dogs sniffed out the contraband packed in “bricks” and carried in duffel bags. The total worth is estimated to be around $340,000.

Luster had two passengers with him during the incident, both are California residents. 30-year-old Cher Holland of Los Angeles, and 44-year-old Ernest Austin of Fonata, were charged with trafficking cannabis and given a $2 million bond each. Luster’s bond is $4 million. The three individuals have been charged with drug trafficking on a state level in Illinois, according to authorities there in Livingston County, where Pontiac is seated. Marijuana trafficking is a Class X felony meaning the three accused traffickers face prison terms of between 12 and 60 years.

The Pontiac Police Department said federal charges are not expected because the Illinois State has a stronger case. Trisler said the SMPD is aware of the incident and currently investigating it, although it is unlikely the three will be charged in Santa Monica as well.

The plane was leased from a private owner in Texas whose involvement is yet to be determined, said Pontiac Police Maj. Jim Woolford.

Santa Monica Airport Director, Bob Trimborn said his staff his cooperating in the investigation by providing access to all levels of law enforcement.

“It’s unfortunate that this happened,” Trimborn said, “but they caught them and they’re no longer out there.”

in News
Related Posts

Police Union Considering Suing City of Santa Monica Over Lack of Citizen Commission Inclusion

March 4, 2021

March 4, 2021

By Toi Creel ] The City of Santa Monica’s Police union is fighting to be included in a committee meant...

Video: Indoor Dining Close to Returning in LA County?

March 4, 2021

March 4, 2021

Indoor dining could return to LA County very soon. Learn more and hear what diners have to say in this...

Santa Monica Teachers Begin Receiving COVID-19 Vaccinations Ahead of Campuses Reopening

March 2, 2021

March 2, 2021

SMMUSD partners with Providence St. John’s Health Center to vaccinate certain educators and staff By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica-Malibu Unified...

‘Safe Camping’ at the VA is Open To All Homeless Veterans

March 1, 2021

March 1, 2021

The “safe camping” program is geared toward getting homeless Veterans off the streets and provides a way to transition from homelessness to...

Santa Monica Police Warn of Thieves Targeting Seniors Near Palisades Park

March 1, 2021

March 1, 2021

Two elderly woman robbed along Ocean Avenue recently By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica police are investigating two thefts targeting senior...

Santa Monica’s Zero Emissions Delivery Zone Pilot Has Begun: Santa Monica Beat – March, 1, 2021

March 1, 2021

March 1, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Santa Monica’s Zero Emissions Delivery Zone Pilot Has Begun * City...

Video: Closing Down Westside Oil Field?

February 26, 2021

February 26, 2021

Officials are discussing closing a Westside oil field sitting on hundreds of acres of prime coastal land. Learn more in...

Pico Neighborhood Affordable Housing Project Breaks Ground

February 26, 2021

February 26, 2021

Over 70 units of affordable housing come to area near Woodlawn Cemetery By Sam Catanzaro A 70-unit-plus affordable housing development...

Large Properties Drive-up Santa Monica Home Sales Amid Pandemic

February 26, 2021

February 26, 2021

Annual report shows single-family home sales rising By Sam Catanzaro Interest in large properties with five-bedrooms or more helped drive-up...

Santa Monica Police Arrest Parolee for Setting Stolen Car on Fire

February 25, 2021

February 25, 2021

Alex Omar Aguirre arrested by Santa Monica Police Department By Sam Catanzaro A Santa Monica resident this week watched as...

Video: Closing Streets to Allow for More Outdoor Dining?

February 25, 2021

February 25, 2021

A drunk driver recently crashed into a Santa Monica outdoor dining area, bringing attention to a proposal that would close...

Dozens of Santa Monica Restaurants to Participate in dineL.A.

February 25, 2021

February 25, 2021

First ‘spring’ season of culinary event to begin first week in March By Kerry Slater Dozens of Santa Monica restaurants...

Video: Free LA Metro Rides Could Begin Soon

February 24, 2021

February 24, 2021

LA Metro could begin offering fare-less rides as early as next year as part of a $300+ million program. Learn...