Ace high: Pot pilot sentenced to prison






A federal judge has pronounced sentence on the 65-year-old pilot who was forced down on March 20 at the Llano Municipal Airport and arrested with 15 duffel bags of marijuana.

Wayne Douglas Brunet of Austin was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute from 50-100 kilograms of marijuana. The announcement came at the conclusion of court proceedings on Friday, Sept. 22, from U.S. Attorney Richard L. Durbin Jr. and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden, San Antonio Division.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ordered that Brunet pay a $5,000 fine and be placed on supervised release for a period of three years after completing his prison term. Judge Sparks also ordered that Brunet forfeit his 1969 Piper PA-30 Comanche aircraft, $5,400 in U.S. currency and approximately $3,000 worth of prepaid cards seized by law enforcement.

In Brunet's pre-dawn arrest on March 20, state authorities discovered approximately 206 pounds of hydroponic marijuana on board his aircraft. According to court records, HSI agents had been prepared to interdict Brunet as he attempted to land at an unmanned airport in Bulverde. The Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operation Center (AMOC) began tracking his single-engine plane after observing that it had a suspicious flight pattern from Medford, Oregon, to Texas and had landed only once in Holbrook, Arizona, to refuel.

Brunet landed at the unmanned airport in Bulverde, but departed again after spotting authorities on the ground. Brunet then proceeded to the Lago Vista airport, but again, aborted his landing when encountered by law enforcement. Finally, Brunet proceeded to the Llano airport where he landed at approximately midnight.

After bringing the aircraft to a stop, Brunet attempted to flee on foot, but was apprehended on the tarmac by the Texas Department of Public Safety Air Unit. Authorities recovered 15 duffel bags filled with vacuum-sealed packages of marijuana along with approximately $5,400 in currency.

Brunet has remained in federal custody since his arrest. On June 28, Brunet pleaded guilty to the drug trafficking charge.

HSI agents conducted this investigation together with assistance from CBP AMOC, Texas Department of Public Safety Air Unit and the Llano County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Devlin prosecuted this case on behalf of the government. 

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