Arizona flight instructor arrested in cocaine smuggling operation
An Arizona flight instructor is jailed in Seward County, Kansas, charged in a $2 million dollar cocaine smuggling operation that police busted Wednesday in Liberal, Kansas.
Patrick Williams, 51, of Tempe, Arizona and Ricardo Lopez, 26, are charged with distributing cocaine, conspiracy to commit distribution, and several other charges.
Wednesday, the KBI said it, along with the Department of Homeland Security got information that led them to a suspicious plane landing at the airport in Liberal. The Seward County Sheriff's Office assisted in meeting the plane on the tarmac and identifying those inside. Williams and Lopez were arrested and law enforcement seized 144 pounds of cocaine as well as the plane.
According to FAA records, the 1970 Beech 70 Queen Air fixed wing multi-engine airplane was just recently purchased and an application for registration is "in progress." The address listed under the Registered Owner portion of the FAA records can be traced back to Fly WAAZ, LLC (Williams Aviation Arizona) which is owned by Williams.
A picture of the seized plane also appears on a Facebook page associated with Williams.
FAA records also show Williams Aviation Arizona LLC listed in an Other Owner Names section of the plane's registration status.
On his website, Williams says he's a commercial contract pilot, certified flight instructor and advanced ground instructor. He writes he began flight training while in the US Air Force Academy in Colorado and he had his first powered aircraft solo in the mid-80's.
Fly Waaz offers flight training services out of Falcon Filed, in Mesa, Arizona.
A criminal check shows Williams was found guilty of two counts of fraudulent schemes from crimes he committed in 1994 in Maricopa County, Arizona. In 2011, he was found guilty of Illegal Control of Enterprise and Unauthorized Computer Software Use in the same county.
Williams' mother spoke with FactFinder 12 Friday about the arrest. She said she had no idea it even happened. She called Williams a polite man who was a good Catholic and she doesn't know what happened. She knew something was up, she said, when she didn't hear from Williams. She said he normally sends her a message each morning and she hadn't gotten one since Tuesday. He was working on his aeronautical engineering degree and she said she couldn't believe what she was hearing.
Both Williams and Lopez were in court this morning. Bond is set at $2 million dollars for each man.