Sixty-four pounds of marijuana was seized at Litchfield Municipal Airport in a joint effort by the Litchfield Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security.
In the evening hours of Saturday, July 20, the Litchfield Police Department was contacted by Homeland Security and was advised that a small plane was in route to Litchfield as part of a cross-country trek that was suspected to be a drug run.
The plane was scheduled to stop at the Litchfield Municipal Airport around midnight for fuel and the occupants may have planned to stay overnight in a local hotel.
DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and several Litchfield PD officers watched for the plane to land shortly after midnight and observed two occupants park the plane, unload small bags into the airport courtesy car and leave the airport property in route to a local hotel.
The vehicle was stopped by DHS and LPD personnel before the occupants could enter the hotel, with a small amount of marijuana detected by the Litchfield Police Department K-9 "Arie"in the luggage belonging to Jonathan Eymann, 32, of Goleta, CA.
The department's K-9 also alerted on several thousand dollars in cash located on the pilot of the plane, Gary Lyons, 52, of Ventura, CA.
With the two individuals in investigative detention, all personnel returned to the airport, where Arie and his handler, Officer Shane Grammer, conducted a sniff of the secured plane.
Arie alerted on the plane as well and upon entry, two large suitcases and one small backpack were located containing just over 64 pounds of vacuum sealed marijuana in one pound bags, ready for sale. A loaded firearm was also located in the airplane, a 1979 Cessna 182 single engine prop plane.
Further investigation revealed that this was the third trip to Litchfield this pair had made, each time moving marijuana to a customer in the Pittsburgh, PA metro area.
Both subjects were taken into federal custody and transported to Sangamon County to be charged there by the United States Attorney's Office. Paperwork was immediately initiated to seize the plane, the weapon and the cash under the federal asset forfeiture law.
On Monday, July 22, the decision was made to transfer Eymann and Lyons back to Montgomery County and to charge them under the state statute, as the state sentencing guidelines are more stringent for the offenses.
Both subjects were booked in at the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department jail late Monday after-noon and were formally charged with possession of more than 5,000 grams of cannabis, a class one felony, on Tuesday, July 23, by State's Attorney Chris Matoush.
Bond was set at $300,000 for both men. Eymann will be in court on Friday, July 26, at 10 a.m. for a public defender status hearing, while Lyons will appear in court on Aug. 6, at 10 a.m., with counsel. Judge Kelly Long will be presiding over both hearings.
The Litchfield Police Department will now pursue the assets seized during the arrest, including the plane, which will be sold at auction once forfeiture is completed.
The case remains open and in joint cooperation between the Litchfield Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security.
This is the second large marijuana seizure the Litchfield Police Department has assisted with at the local airport, and the second plane seized in the last six months.
On March 9, $156,000 worth of marijuana was seized, along with the airplane it was found on, during another drug bust at the airport, which also began with a tip from the Department of Homeland Security.