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October 12, 2017  
Contact: Public Information Officer
Number: (313) 234-4310

Canadian man sentenced to more than five years in prison for charges related to possessing 290 pounds of cocaine
- The cocaine was seized after the David Ayotte’s airplane was forced to make emergency landing in Athens, Ohio

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – David Ayotte, 46, of Maribel, Canada, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 63 months in prison and three years of supervised release for possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.

Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, announced the filing of the plea documents today.

Law enforcement and other agencies involved in this case include: U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations, Federal Aviation Administration, Ohio University Police Department, the Ohio University Airport, Athens County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations, Ohio National Guard Counter Drug Program, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations Attaché Office Montreal, Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Border Services Agency and Service de Police del la Ville de Montreal.

Ayotte and Sylvain Desjardins, 48, also of Maribel, Canada, pled guilty in May of 2017, to one count of possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.

According to the Statement of Facts filed in this case, on March 29, 2017, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations center official in Riverside, Calif. detected an aircraft that departed from the Bahamas and was traveling to Windsor, Ontario, Canada but had diverted to Gordon K. Bush Airport at Ohio University.

The official contacted the Athens County Sheriff’s Office, who, along with agents from HSI, executed a search warrant on the plane upon arrival. While doing so, investigators discovered approximately 132 kilograms or 290 pounds of cocaine.

Desjardins was the pilot and Ayotte was his passenger. The two men intended on flying the cocaine to Canada to then distribute, but discovered that the plane was having mechanical issues.

U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the cooperative investigation of this case by law enforcement, as well as Deputy Criminal Chief Michael J. Hunter, who is representing the United States in this case.

 


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