Pilots Bonded Out On Drug Siege At Umatilla Municipal Airport


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Pilots Bonded Out On Drug Siege At Umatilla Municipal Airport

Mike Mitchell

October 1, 2010 - Lake County sheriff’s detective assigned to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) task force received information on September 19, 2010 from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) indicating there was suspicious activity regarding two aircraft and that the aircraft were enroute to Lake County from Texas.

A collaborative effort was then commenced to track and locate the planes and those on board for investigative purposes. Later that night, the two planes landed at the Umatilla Municipal Airport in Umatilla and the parties from the planes were confronted by Lake County sheriff’s patrol deputies, narcotics detectives, Umatilla police officers, and agents from DEA and ICE.


After providing false information to the law enforcement officers, the pilot of the first plane, Christopher Shirley, denied consent to the agents to search his plane. A sheriff’s K-9 then sniffed the plane, the hangar, and a vehicle the parties were seen in or around and alerted on all three to the odor of narcotics.

A search warrant was then obtained for the properties. Upon executing the warrant later in the night, agents located and confiscated nearly 800 pounds of marijuana, which carries a street value of approximately $800,000, from inside the aircraft and the back of two trucks parked in the hangar.

Anabolic steroids belonging to Shirley were also found and confiscated. The agents also seized approximately $30,000 during the search. The three subjects arrested were Christopher Shirley, Meagan Brower, and Michael Lwin, all from the Orlando area. Brower and Lwin were both charged with Trafficking Marijuana while Shirley was charged with Trafficking Marijuana and for his possession of steroids.

The three were booked in with no bond; however, pursuant to a bond hearing held on Wednesday, the three have now posted bail and are no longer in custody. The two airplanes have been seized and are currently being stored at the Leesburg International Airport, pending forfeiture proceedings. Three vehicles and the cash are also pending forfeiture as part of this investigation.

Christopher Shirley, age 35, of Orlando, Florida received his Private Pilot license on March 1, 2010 for Airplane Single Engine Land. Michael Lwin, age 33, of of Orlando, Florida received his Private Pilot license on June 6, 2010 for Airplane Single Engine Land.
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