Man Faces Federal Charges for Alleged Cross-Country Marijuana Flights in Cessna

Man Faces Federal Charges for Alleged Cross-Country Marijuana Flights in Cessna

Oakland Pilot Indicted for Allegedly Flying Marijuana Cross-Country Following Federal Informant's Testimony.

For months, an Oakland pilot allegedly flew marijuana cross-country on his Cessna. Then the person paying for it became a federal informant

An Oakland man has been indicted in Richmond, Va. on federal charges that he used his Cessna to personally fly hundreds of pounds of marijuana across the country over several flights, but the alleged crimes were only discovered after the person suspected of putting him up to it decided to turn him in.

Quentin Helgren was indicted in late May by a federal grand jury in Virginia on charges of distributing more than 50 kilograms of marijuana. The charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, records show.

A criminal complaint filed against Helgren says that his legal troubles started with an investigation into a person who is now cooperating with the federal government. The unnamed informant is described in court records as someone who was putting on weekly clandestine cannabis sales in Virginia — a state where marijuana possession is legal but the commercial market is not — and allegedly hired Helgren as a courier.

Federal authorities raided the cooperating witness’ warehouse last January and found hundreds of pounds of marijuana, according to a criminal complaint. That’s when he or she decided to turn in Helgren, describing in detail several times in 2023 when Helgren allegedly flew 85-120 pounds of marijuana to Virginia on his Cessna, and was paid $12,500 to $15,000 per trip.

The Drug Enforcement Administration found cellphone data and hotel records that further established Helgren was flying between Oakland and Virginia throughout 2023, according to the criminal complaint.

Helgren was arrested in May in the Bay Area and released from jail while the case is pending. His arraignment has been set for June 12, court records show. Federal prosecutors have also filed a petition to seize his 1978 Cessna as part of the criminal prosecution under asset forfeiture laws.

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Region: Virginia

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