NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Metro police seized a single-engine Cessna airplane at John Tune Airport in west Nashville Thursday and arrested two men from California after an investigation revealed they used to plane to transport marijuana from California to Nashville.
Detectives said the plane landed in Nashville around 7 p.m. Wednesday. The pilot and his passenger were seen offloading three suspicious looking duffle bags along with personal luggage.
Witnesses reported what they had seen to authorities just before the men left the airport in a rental car.
A police drug dog was brought to the scene and indicated drugs had been present.
Through further investigation, detectives located the rental car at a downtown Nashville strip club.
From the strip club, police said the pilot and his passenger traveled back to a Broadway hotel where they had checked in earlier and where they are believed to have sold much of the marijuana shortly after check-in.
When the pilot, Eric Bausch, 40, and his passenger, Robbie Valdespino, 33, returned to the plane midday Thursday, detectives moved in.
More than 17 pounds of high grade hydroponic marijuana, which has a street value in excess of $70,000, and $20,000 in cash was found amongst their luggage.
Metro police said the investigation shows that Bausch flew the aircraft from southern California to Nashville and intended to fly it to New Orleans on Thursday.
Detectives also learned that the plane landed in Nashville on March 8 with what was suspected to have been another load of marijuana.
Bausch and Valdespino are each charged with possession of marijuana for resale. Their bond was set at $350,000 each.