Drug-smuggler Russell W. Brothers Jr. headed back to prison after plea to weapons charges

A convicted drug smuggler who now lives in Burns is headed back to prison after pleading guilty to federal weapons charges. 77-year-old Russell White Brothers Jr. pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Nashville to charges of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and obstructing a federal investigation. As part of the plea agreement, he will be sentenced to 15 months in a federal prison officially in January and have to begin serving that sentence within 30 days. Brothers was indicted in March 2013 almost a year after federal agents found 16 guns during a search of his home in Burns. The search came just six days after Brothers crash landed a 1961 Beechcraft under cover of night at the closed Cornelia Fort Airpark in Nashville and left without notifying authorities. After the damaged plane was identified as belonging to Brothers, he told authorities he had mechanical trouble on his way to the Dickson Municipal Airport and chose to land on the grass field at Cornelia Fort where he used to live and was familiar with the facility. He said after making a belly landing that damaged the propellars and underside of the plane, he called his wife to pick him up and drive him to the couple’s Dickson County home. During the subsequent search of his home, authorities found revolvers, rifles and a shotgun and later discovered that Brothers had given a gun to a friend with instructions to lie about how he got it and hid another gun at a relative’s home, leading to the investigation obstruction charges. Brothers was called part of one of the biggest drug-smuggling operations in U.S. history when he was convicted in 1988 of flying tons of cocaine from Colombia through the Bahamas and into Florida. The son of a Belle Meade businessman and a former Vanderbilt University football player, Brothers would serve 11 years in prison for smuggling and then was convicted of smuggling and money laundering in the mid-1990s. After his initial conviction, Tennessee authorities seized $6 million in property alleged to have been the profits of his drug operation, including a restaurant in Chattanooga, a 248-acre farm, two airplanes and two boats, at that time a record seizure for the state. Because of his felony convictions, Brothers is prohibited from possessing firearms.