The aim of the presented experiments is to study the transport of a heavy ion beam in a high-current plasma channel. The discharge is initiated in NH3 gas at pressures between 2 and 20 mbar by a line-tuned CO2 laser. A stable discharge over the entire electrode gap (0.5 m) was achieved for currents up to 60 kA. Concerning the ion beam transport, the magnetic field distribution inside the plasma channel has to be known. The ion-optical properties of the plasma channel have been investigated using different species of heavy ions (C, Ni, Au, U) with 11.4 MeV/u during six runs at the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschungs-UNILAC linear accelerator. The high magnetic field allowed the accomplishment of one complete betatron oscillation along the discharge channel. The results obtained up to now are very promising and suggest that, by scaling the discharge gap to longer distances, the beam transport over several meters is possible with negligible losses.