Plane was under investigation prior to the crash in Medford
Right after the single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft crashed into a Medford neighborhood Saturday area residents rushed to the aid of the two people on-board.
One resident told News 10 on the scene they saw bags of marijuana in the plane. Authorities quickly brought out a drug K-9 and his handler following the crash Saturday to search the wreckage. It would not be until Sunday, June 9, that Medford Police would announce drug trafficking charges against the pilot, Mathew Thompson, and passenger, Zachary Moore.
News 10 has learned the federal investigation may have started before the crash.
Allen Kenitzer, from the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Communication, tells News 10 the pilot failed to file a flight plan in that doomed flight.
"No flight plan was filed, " Kenitzer said.
And it may not have been the first time.
David Leroy, an attorney representing the plane's owner, Lamon Loucks, said flying without a flight plan tipped off agents from the Department of Homeland Security, who then started tracking their movements for weeks.
"(Mr. Loucks) was recently visited by agents of the Department of Homeland Security to get his version of what was going on to this particular plane. Those agents assured him that he was not a suspect. They knew, and in fact, had been following the movements of this plane for the last several weeks," Leroy said.
News 10 reached out to Homeland Security for comment but have not heard back.
On Monday Moore and Thompson will face a preliminary hearing where the probable cause for their arrest will be examined in court.
Leroy contends his client is the victim in this case who's aircraft was supposed to be tied down at the airport in Caldwell, Idaho.
"My client is utterly not involved," Leroy said.
Leroy said Loucks filed a police report earlier this week to report the plane stolen.
"It may have been flying drugs into Oregon, picking up cash, picking up marijuana to fly them to some other point," said Leroy. "But as far as I am able to learn, as far as my client knows, there was no flight plan filed for this flight either flying into Oregon or going out of Oregon. That's why the Department of Homeland Security was tracking this aircraft."
Leroy said the plane wasn't insured. According to the FAA, the registration had expired May 4.
"If this plane was stolen or not authorized to be flown it's not necessarily foreseeable by an owner of an aircraft that it might crash at the hands of someone else. The individuals flying the plane would probably be those persons most liable for damages caused by a crash," Leroy said.
Federal drug charges could be pending against the two Idaho residents. Oregon's neighbors to the east, Idaho, outlaws both recreational and, medicinal marijuana.