Authorities are calling a it a major drug bust - an airplane caught fueling up, filled with drugs, at an east Texas airstrip.
The private plane and its pilot were spotted yesterday afternoon at the Cherokee County Airport between Jacksonville and Rusk.
As KLTV 7 News' Danielle Capper reports, it was the combination of local and federal law enforcement working together to get one Baton Rouge man caught in the act.
Dressed in orange, 51 year old Rodney K. Dotson appeared for arraignment in Judge Craig Fletcher's court this afternoon. How law enforcement caught him in his private plane is quite a story.
"We got a call yesterday afternoon about 3:00 pm from Homeland Security," said Cherokee County Sheriff James Campbell. "They were trailing a plane that was coming to the Cherokee County Airport, they believed to refuel."
Homeland Security had been trailing the plane. Orginially, it had left Stateline, Nevada, stopped in Alberqurque to refuel, and they believe it was headed for Baton Rouge.
"We interviewed the subject, and he refused consent to search. We got the drug dog from precinct 3 constable," says Sheriff Campbell. "We found about 30 lbs of marijuana in two large black duffel bags. [It was] hydroponic marijuana, which is grown in water."
At small airports like Cherokee County's, anywhere between 2 to 20 airplanes stop per day, often times just to refuel. But because of that authorities say it makes it easier for drug traffickers to fly under the radar.
"The majority of your drug dealers will use the smaller airports when possible," explains Campbell. "The larger ones are watched more closely."
But, the feds were watching, and the $150,000 worth of drugs will never make it to the streets.
Dotson's plane has been impounded and he's been charged with possession of marijuana and possession of a controlled substance. His bond was set at just under $2,000,000.
Judge Fletcher also asked that his passport and pilot's license be suspended and was notifying the FAA that his pilot's license should be revoked.