From: http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.d ... 0107310321
2 men held in marijuana case
BY ANDREW KNAPP • FLORIDA TODAY • July 31, 2010
Two local men were arrested Friday morning on drug-cultivation charges after a wildlife officer saw an ultralight plane fly into a remote area of Volusia County and land.
Ronald Paul Thorstad, 53, of Titusville and James L. Nordby, 67, of Mims face felony counts of the cultivation of cannabis, as well as other charges. Officials said Thorstad was armed with a handgun for which he had a concealed-weapons permit.
The men were held Friday in lieu of a $10,000 bond at the Volusia County Jail.
Joy Hill, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said an investigator patrolling the Seminole Ranch Conservation Area off State Road 46 saw the plane land on sandy ground at 9 a.m.
"He watched them land," Hill said, "and he thought that was pretty cool."
Two men climbed off and headed into a thick stand of palm trees near the St. Johns River, a patch considered sovereign land. The investigator figured something was fishy when he saw the water jugs and fertilizer they were carrying into the wooded patch.
"Normally, when we have rain, it's a little island," Hill said. "But now, it's bone-dry, and they were able to land the plane and walk in to check on their two potted pot plants."
Skeptical that the men were not flying in for a leisure visit, Hill said the investigator "stealthily" walked to the edge of the palm trees and waited.
"When they came out, they were quite surprised," she said. "But they were very cooperative."
The plants were confiscated, but the ultralight was hauled away and returned to the home of Thorstad, the owner.
He was charged with the cultivation of cannabis and the possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, both of which are third-degree felonies; and the use of paraphernalia, a first-degree misdemeanor.
Nordby was charged with the cultivation of cannabis and the use of paraphernalia, a first-degree misdemeanor.
In 16 years, Hill has never seen such a case.
"It's not unusual for people to be growing marijuana in secluded areas," she said. "But it was unique in that they used an ultralight."
Contact Knapp at 242-3669 or firstname.lastname@example.org