By Tim Ghianni
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - A man who used $20,000 in cash to charter a private plane from Nashville to California was arrested on money laundering charges after an airport police dog smelled narcotics on $153,000 stuffed into his suitcase, according to a police affidavit released Tuesday.
Conor Guckian, 33, was arrested in Nashville on Monday after airport police were alerted to a "suspicious individual" using the large sum of cash to charter the plane to California, according to the affidavit.
A K-9 unit detected the drug odor on the bundles of money in Guckian's bag, the document said.
The officer then waited for Guckian to arrive to board the plane, where Guckian told officers he was transporting the large sum in order to buy gold in California, according to the affidavit.
He consented to a second search and the second dog detected the narcotic odor on the cash, which was divided into 32 bundles secured with rubber bands, according to the affidavit.
"The manner in which the U.S. currency was wrapped is consistent with that of drug proceeds," the affidavit says.
Authorities said Guckian told police he was chartering the plane because he thought it would be a safer way to transport the cash, although he had flown commercial jets to Nashville from New York and Chicago. It was unclear where Guckian lives.
He told police he came to Nashville to see a friend, but later said he was only there because the flights were cheaper, police said.
Guckian also told police he structured his bank accounts to show balances under $10,000 to avoid government detection and said he was previously arrested in New York for possession for resale of cocaine.
He remained in jail Tuesday in lieu of $10,000 bond.
(Reporting by Tim Ghianni in Nashville; Editing by Karen Brooks and Alden Bentley)