Refueling stop leads to pilot's drug arrest

June 14, 2008 4:46:22 AM PDT
A pilot tailed by airborne federal agents and arrested during a refueling stop was jailed Friday on a nearly $2 million bond in a drug investigation. Rodney K. Dotson of Stateline, Nev., was arraigned on one count of possession of a controlled substance and one count of possession of marijuana.

Cherokee County Sheriff's Detective Chris White says bond is $975,000 on each third-degree felony count. If convicted, Dotson faces 2-10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000 on each count.

White told The Associated Press that the single-engine plane flown by Dotson has been confiscated, along with its cargo of 31 pounds of "high-level" marijuana.

The marijuana has a street value of up to $200,000, White said. Federal agents contacted the sheriff's department to say "they had been behind him since somewhere around Albuquerque," White said.

Dotson landed at the Cherokee County Airport in Jacksonville on Thursday afternoon and was attempting to refuel as federal agents "landed behind him," White said.

White says Dotson told officers he was on his way to Baton Rouge, La., where he has a residence.

Federal charges are pending, White said.

Attorney Michael Kesler of Jacksonville, identified by White as Dotson's lawyer, did not immediately return a message left Friday afternoon by The Associated Press.

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