One of a pair of men accused of federal crimes in transporting marijuana and cash into the Springdale airport has learned that he will not be charged. The 36-year-old man claimed at the time of his arrest that he was only a passenger and had no knowledge that the drugs were on the plane. The 35-year-old man with whom he was arrested will still face charges of felony possession with intent to deliver.
The plane allegedly left for Arkansas from a California location, containing 133 pounds of marijuana as well as $1,500 in cash. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security became suspicious when the pilot neglected to file a flight plan and tracked the plane to Springdale, where the two men were arrested by local law enforcement authorities at a hotel.
This arrest follows that of 16 people who were charged with meth distribution and money laundering in Springdale last year. The sting operation that netted millions of dollars in recovered drugs and led to those arrests was labeled Operation La Pantera Negra, or "The Black Panther." Over 100 pounds of methamphetamine were seized during that bust. Northwest Arkansas has become known as a "hub" for traffickers because of the easy access to large cities such as Kansas City and St. Louis.
The man who was initially charged in this incident is not alone in his experience. Many people who happen to be in the location at the time of a drug bust have nothing to do with the production, but are arrested on distribution or sale of drugs. A criminal defense attorney can represent the interests of such a suspect and work toward the dismissal of the charges.
Source: KFSM/KXNW 5 News, "Charges Dropped Against Passenger in Pot-Plane Arrest," Larry Henry, Jan. 29, 2013