Drug Enforcement Administration


Keith Martin (Acting), Special Agent in Charge

October 27, 2017

Contact: Brian McNeal

Phone Number: (571) 362-1498

Canadian Man Sentenced To 8 Years In Prison For Possession Of 132 Kilos Of Cocaine Located In Airplane

- Sylvain Desjardins was pilot of aircraft forced to land in Ohio due to mechanical failure

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Sylvain Desjardins, 48, of Maribel, Canada, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 96 months in prison and three years of supervised release for possessing 290 pounds of cocaine in a plane that went down near Athens, Ohio on March 29.

Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, announced the sentence handed down today by U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley.

Law enforcement and other agencies involved in this case include: Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 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 (HIDTA) Task Force, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Border Services Agency and Service de Police del la Ville de Montreal.

Desjardins and David Ayotte, 46, also of Maribel, Canada, pleaded guilty in May to one count of possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.

Ayotte was sentenced to 63 months in prison and three years of supervised release on October 12.

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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