Authorities say they removed nearly 300 lbs of cocaine from an airplane (ICE)

Occupant of Cocaine Plane Pleads Guilty

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One of two men aboard a plane that landed at Ohio University’s airport with about 132 kilograms of suspected cocaine on board has pleaded guilty.

Sylvain Desjardins, 48, a Canadian national, pleaded guilty to one count of possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, in a hearing Friday before Judge Algenon L. Marbley in the United States District Court for the Eastern Division of the Southern District of Ohio, according to court documents.

Desjardins and David Ayotte, 46, also a Canadian national, were arrested in March after the Piper Navajo plane they were in landed at the Gordon K. Bush Airport.  The Athens County Sheriff and OU Police Department were called by U.S. Customs and Border Protection “to assist with an aircraft about to land illegally in the United States,” a release from the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement stated.

Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith said deputies detained the pilot and passenger until Homeland Security investigators could arrive, according to previous WOUB reporting.

As Customs and Border Protection Air Interdiction and Homeland Security Interdiction agents were interviewing the plane occupants, a canine unit “alerted to the aircraft which resulted in the discovery of nearly 300 lbs. of a powdery substance which was field-tested positive as cocaine,” the release stated.

The mandatory minimum sentence for Desjardins is ten years in prison, but he could face life in prison, a fine of $10 million and supervised release of five years to life.

Ayotte entered a plea of guilty to the same charge in June.

The judge asked that both be subject to a pre-sentence investigation, which decides their likelihood to reoffend and likelihood of being rehabilitated. After the pre-sentence investigation is complete, a hearing will be held to decide the time both will spend in prison.