FROM STAFF REPORTS
AUSTIN — A 64-year-old Austin man who landed his marijuana-ladened plane at the Llano Municipal Airport in March faces up to 20 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to federal drug charges June 28.
Wayne Douglas Brunet entered the guilty plea on a charge of possession with intent to distribute between 50 kilograms and 100 kilograms of marijuana, according to Richard Durbin Jr. of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Texas. Durbin was joined by Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden of the San Antonio Division in announcing the pilot’s guilty plea.
On March 20, Texas Department of Public Safety officers arrested Brunet when he tried to flee from authorities after landing his aircraft in Llano. Authorities recovered about 206 pounds of hydroponic marijuana in the aircraft.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operation Center began tracking Brunet’s single-engine plane because of “a suspicious flight pattern” after he departed Medford, Oregon, on March 19 on his way to Texas.
Brunet first attempted to land at an unmanned airport in Bulverde just north of San Antonio. He landed his plane but quickly took off when he spotted law enforcement authorities on the ground waiting for him, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Then, the 64-year-old headed north and tried to land at the Lago Vista airport, located between Marble Falls and Cedar Park, but again aborted the landing after he saw law enforcement officers waiting for him.
Brunet headed west and landed at the Llano airport at about midnight March 19. This time, he was able to land and brought the airplane to a stop but tried to flee on foot.
A Texas Department of Public Safety Air Unit was able to apprehend Brunet on the Llano airport tarmac and take him into custody.
Authorities recovered 15 duffle bags full with vacuum-sealed packages of marijuana as well as about $5,400 in cash.
Brunet remains in federal custody awaiting sentencing. Officials said no date has been set for his sentencing.