Both Canadian men who landed a plane loaded with cocaine at Ohio University’s Gordon K. Bush Airport in March have now pleaded guilty to federal drug charges.
Sylvain Desjardins, 57, entered a guilty plea Friday, while David Ayotte entered a guilty plea on June 2.
The two men, both from the Quebec area, landed at the Gordon K. Bush Airport without authorization on March 29. Gordon K. Bush Airport is not a port of entry, meaning no one can legally enter the U.S. there. Authorities discovered about 300 pounds of cocaine on the plane.
The flight began in the Bahamas and was initially destined for Canada, but Desjardins and Ayotte landed at the airport in Lee Township, about 12 miles southwest of Athens, after discovering their plane had mechanical problems. The Department of Homeland Security warned the Ohio University Police Department that the plane was approaching.
Both men were charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Possessing more than five kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute is punishable by life in prison and a maximum fine of $10 million. The mandatory minimum sentence is 10 years. The men are accused of transporting about 132 kilograms, or just under 300 pounds, on the plane.
Ayotte has agreed to surrender property seized during the investigation, including an iPhone and about $1,300 in Canadian and U.S. dollars. Upon his conviction, Desjardins will surrender the plane the two landed.