July 22, 2009 Edition

Also in this issue...

News | Sports Scene | Education | Viewpoints | Records |

Local officers make drug bust



Walnut Ridge Detective David Burnside (foreground) weighs a block of marijuana as WRPD Chief Leslie Gates (right) prepares to hand him another duffel bag full of the drug while Hoxie Police Chief Glen Smith records the weight of the individual blocks. A total of 418.6 pounds of marijuana were found on an aircraft that landed at the Walnut Ridge Airport on Monday.
TD Photo ~ Gretchen Hunt
Gretchen Hunt
Editor

Walnut Ridge Police Chief Leslie Gates and Hoxie Police Chief Glen Smith discovered approximately 420 pounds of marijuana on Monday in an airplane that had landed at Walnut Ridge Regional Airport's Swindle Field to refuel.

Gates said he received word from the Lawrence County Communications Center to return a call concerning a tip.

The call was from Homeland Security regarding a plane that was planning to land at Walnut Ridge and had been flagged as suspicious upon leaving an Arizona airport.

Because his officers were on other calls, he requested assistance from Smith, and the two took an unmarked vehicle to the airport. While conducting surveillance, Gates said they noticed two male subjects exit the aircraft, which was a 1977 model 310 Cessna.

"We noticed that they were acting nervous, and their actions did seem to be suspicious," Gates said.

While Gates was on a followup call with Homeland Security, Smith went into the terminal building and made contact with one of the men from the plane and then went out onto the runway to speak to the pilot.

"When I got off the phone with Homeland Security, I went out to the airplane as well," Gates said.

"We could smell the marijuana as we approached the plane," Smith said.

After receiving consent to search the plane, the officers discovered what they already knew was there.

"When Glen opened the door, the plane was full," Gates said. "The seats had been removed to make room for the drugs, and the marijuana was just stacked in there."

The plane was flying from Arizona to Pennsylvania and had already made one fuel stop in New Mexico. The pilot, Heath M. Gephart, 35, and passenger Mark David Sweigart, also 35, were both from Harrisburg, Pa.

Gates said the pilot had a previous drug conviction. Both men were arrested for possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. They were transported to the Lawrence County Jail and were scheduled to appear in court today for a bond hearing.

Federal officers from ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) out of Little Rock and Homeland Security out of Hammond, La., also responded to the scene.

Gates said the WRPD confiscated some cell phones, a navigation system and some other miscellaneous personal items. The department has also filed paperwork to seize the aircraft.

Click Here for help with The TD Online

Google
 
Reprints Games

Click for Walnut Ridge Regional, Arkansas Forecast
News | Sports | Education | Viewpoints | Classifieds | Records
Business Directory | Calendar | Community Directory | Obituaries | The Scoreboard
Contact Us | Staff | TD History | Archives | Subscribe Online
Email the Online Editor:
Email the Editor:
Questions? Email:
askimahorn@thetd.com
editor@thetd.com
help@thetd.com
Hosted by BSC-Net
Copyright 2000 ~ 2014 The Times Dispatch
P.O. Box 389 ~ Walnut Ridge, Arkansas 72476

Games
Word Scramble







__

Word Scramble Cross-Browser JavaScript, Author: Richard Hucko (RHUCKO1), Web Site: www.DynamicScripts.tk, Category: Games, Browsers: All Newer Browsers
  Local Line Ads
Advertise in The Times Dispatch
Call Janice or Shantelle today! 870-886-2464

Full online edition -
just a click away!

Read full editions of The Times Dispatch online.

Reach more people online
Expand your advertising efforts on The Times Dispatch online. 886-2464

Printing available.
Call The TD for business cards, letterhead, invitations, note cards, more. 870-886-2464

For all your pharmaceutical needs
Sexton Pharmacy
218 W. Main ~ Walnut Ridge
886-3461