A small plane that left Santa Monica Airport on Monday was allegedly loaded with 74 pounds of marijuana, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
The pilot, 31-year-old Hoang H. Nguyen, of Hillsborough, OR, is currently being held on $50,000 bail after his suspicious behavior at a Midwest airport attracted the attention of authorities.
The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports troopers and federal agents were waiting at the Fitchburg, MA, airport Tuesday as the plane landed.
A state police dog alerted authorities to the presence of narcotics, and after getting a search warrant, authorities found three large duffel bags filled with 74 pounds of marijuana, more than $77,000 in cash, maps, an iPad and cellphones, according to The Telegram & Gazette.
Authorities were tipped off by an airport manager in Grundy, Ill, according to court documents.
Mr. Nguyen left Santa Monica on Monday and stopped in Illinois on Tuesday to rest.
The Morris County airport manager contacted officials at the Homeland Security Air Marine Operations Center when he observed Mr. Nguyen pay cash for fuel and then sleep in his plane with two large suitcases, court documents said.
A Homeland Security Interdiction Plane then followed Mr. Nguyen’s plane to Fitchburg where authorities were waiting.
State police said the marijuana had a bulk value of about $370,000, but added that had it been broken down for street-level sale, a dealer could expect to make double that amount.
Mr. Nguyen’s case was continued to Oct. 6.
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