SMO — A man was arrested on drug trafficking charges last week after allegedly flying into an Illinois airport from Santa Monica with 74 pounds of marijuana.

A fixed-wing single engine aircraft registered to Olson Aviation, LLC, a company based in Chandler, Ariz., arrived in Grundy, Ill. on Sept. 26 after departing from SMO, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

The Morris County airport manager saw the pilot pay for fuel with cash and sleep inside the aircraft next to two large suitcases, according to court documents.

The airport manager called the Department of Homeland Security Air Marine Operations Center, which subsequently sent a plane to follow the other aircraft until it landed at Fitchburg Airport in Fitchburg, Mass.

The pilot, identified as Hoang Huy Nguyen, 31, of Oregon, was detained while a police dog sniffed around the exterior of the aircraft and picked up on the scent of marijuana.

Fitchburg District Court issued a search warrant for the plane, which yielded three large duffel bags containing 74 pounds of marijuana, a large amount of cash, maps and cell phones.

Nguyen was arrested on suspicion of felony drug trafficking, and transported to the state police barracks in Leominster, Mass.

The plane Nguyen exited before the marijuana was found has flown into and departed from SMO several times since at least the beginning of August, according to Flightaware.com, a site that displays flight data, airport information and weather conditions for pilots.

The Santa Monica Police Department provides security at the airport. Access to the tarmac is restricted to those with access cards. Any other security measures are kept secret to ensure their usefulness.

ashley@smdp.com