Accused drug smuggling kingpin flown to US after living in Queensland for 30 years

Alleged US marijuana smuggling kingpin Peyton Eidson is locked up in a California jail cell after 30 years on the run as a fugitive in Australia.

Eidson's American lawyer, Erick Guzman, hopes the 72-year-old is offered leniency by US prosecutors.

Peyton Eidson was allegedly the leader of a sophisticated marijuana operation.  Photo: New York Times

Peyton Eidson was allegedly the leader of a sophisticated marijuana operation. Photo: New York Times

Eidson wants to return to Australia.

He will appear before Judge Sallie Kim on Friday (Saturday AEST) and is hoping to be released on bail with a relative who lives in southern California.

Eidson was escorted by Australian officials on a flight from Queensland to San Francisco International Airport on Thursday and was handed over to US Marshals, who had been hunting him since the 1980s.

"I'm going to request bail but I'm sure the government will ask to detain him which is very troubling because he's up in age, there's his health condition and the jails here are tough for anybody," Mr Guzman told AAP on Thursday.

"For someone that hasn't been in the country for almost 30 years it would be very traumatising for him to be held in custody while he fights his case."

US authorities have described Eidson as "the leader" of a sophisticated operation using fleets of vessels to secretly ship large quantities of high-grade marijuana from south-east Asia to northern California.

Eidson was indicted by a grand jury in the US in 1988 on a conspiracy to import marijuana charge and is also accused of fleeing to Australia with his family on false passports.

Eidson is accused of taking the identity of "Michael McGoldrick", a Nebraska-born man who worked in Las Vegas before dying in 1999.

He is also known to use the Christian name Patton while his wife Sonja, who went with the alias Anita McGoldrick, died in Australia from cancer last year.

The couple has a daughter named Maya.

The family began a new life in the quiet far north Queensland rainforest town of Julatten where they operated a popular health spa.

Federal MPs Warren Entsch and Bob Katter have offered their support for Eidson to be returned to Australia when his US legal issues are resolved.

"He wants to return to Australia and be with his family," Mr Guzman said."He has had nothing but positive things to say about the Australian government."

Eidson vanished along with other members of the drug operation in the late 1980s when US authorities began building criminal cases carrying maximum sentences of life in prison.

Two co-accused, Mark Gayer and Mark Wolosky, attempted an elaborate scheme in 1989 to fake their deaths by sinking a fishing boat off California, but the duo was captured in California in 2000 and sentenced to 11 years' jail.

Australian Federal Police arrested the Eidsons in North Queensland in 2011.