Meridian man busted with nearly 200 pounds of pot in airplane, police say

MERIDIAN, Idaho (KBOI) - A Meridian man is charged with carrying 180 lbs. of marijuana on a small plane.

Unitah County deputies arrested 56-year-old Randall Patrick Watson at Vernal Regional Airport in eastern Utah on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

Authorities in eastern Utah say they responded to the airport in Vernal, Utah about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday after receiving a tip from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Officials say a Naples police K-9 walked around the plane and indicated that there might be drugs inside.

Officers say they obtained a search warrant and found four large duffle bags filled with compressed plastic packages of marijuana.

Uintah County under sheriff John Laursen says authorities found nearly 200 pounds of the drug, which could see for about $436,000.

Neighbors in Idaho say they were in disbelief to learn that such a crime could be traced back to their quiet Meridian neighborhood.

"I was pretty shocked," neighbor Melissa Elton said. "You just never know I guess what your neighbors are involved in but yeah, I'm concerned."

Elton and her family moved into their house just a couple of doors down a few months ago.

"We really liked this neighborhood because it had a lot of children and we thought it was quiet and safe for our children."

Another neighbor didn't believe me when I told her what investigators say happened.

"Holy cow! Start again?" neighbor Crystal Price asked.

Price has lived in the Meridian subdivision since it was built nearly eight years ago. She says Watson is an original neighbor too, and that the family seemed quiet and kind.

"Great neighbors," Price said. "Always the ones you wave at, you see them at the gas station in the morning, my husband does. They converse back and forth. Nice people."

People price said she trusted, along with everyone else in the quiet, kid-friendly neighborhood.

"My heart is pounding right now," Price said. "I would send my kids down there if there was an emergency if I happened not to be here. That's how good this street has been."

Price's next door neighbor, Kelly Rice, also has kids who call the streets their playground.

"It's shocking," Rice said. "I mean, I can see his house. To know that is pretty scary, my kids walk right past that house all the time."

All three women say this is very uncharacteristic of their neighborhood. They say they want to get to know their neighbors better as a result.