Two men who allegedly used a private plane to transport more than 70 pounds of marijuana and were arrested after their plane landed at the Johnson City Airport earlier this week are now facing federal drug charges.
Justin Donald Laycock and David Guy Cardwell have been charged with knowingly, intentionally and without authority possessing with the intent to distribute a quantity of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana. The men are also charged with carrying a firearm and ammunition in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
In an affidavit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Greeneville, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Tracy Alexander wrote that on Friday, he received information from a DEA agent in Nashville, who was coordinating with agents in California, that Cardwell and Laycock would be flying a private plane to the Johnson City Airport, a privately-owned airport located on Watauga Road. Alexander stated that he was advised that this plane would be carrying duffle bags “filled with marijuana” and was also advised that the plane would be landing on Monday, was en route, and was being shadowed by U.S. Customs aircraft, according to his affidavit. On Monday, DEA agents and other law enforcement officers set up surveillance at the Johnson City Airport and awaited the arrival of the private plane. At around 1 p.m., the plane landed at the airport, according to Alexander’s affidavit.
The affidavits states agents surveilled the landing and observed Laycock and Cardwell secure the plane, talk on cell phones and “wait around,” as though they appeared to be waiting on someone to arrive.
Cardwell was observed loading backpacks the men took out of their plane into Laycock’s vehicle parked near the plane, according to court documents. The vehicle was observed to have a flat tire, documents state.
Laycock’s brother, who is not named in the affidavit, arrived at the airport shortly after Laycock and Cardwell landed, according to court documents. Cardwell was observed loading three duffle bags into the vehicle driven by Laycock’s brother, according to the affidavit.
Agents approached the three men, and Laycock’s brother gave permission to search his vehicle. Laycock also granted agents permission to search the airplane he and Cardwell arrived in. According to court documents, a drug dog alerted on both the vehicle and the airplane.
“Inside the duffle bags, agents found approximately 75 pounds of high quality compressed marijuana,” the affidavit states. “The marijuana appeared to be pure bud, and each package was labeled as to type/brand of marijuana.”
Agents also searched the backpack Cardwell had loaded into Laycock’s vehicle with the flat tire and found various items, including Laycock’s passport, a Ruger semi-automatic pistol and multiple loaded magazines, according to the affidavit.
At their initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Greeneville on Tuesday, both Laycock and Cardwell were remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Service. Both are scheduled to again appear in U.S. District Court on Monday morning for a detention hearing.