Here's where the cocaine had been hidden.
Federal court documents show United States Customs and Border Protection investigators found 132 bundles, each weighing about 1 kilogram, of suspected cocaine “secreted in the tail of the aircraft.”
Investigators opened three packages to find a “white powdery substance.”
“A review of various database revealed that both Desjardins and Ayotte have prior convictions for drug offenses in Canada,” a complaint filed Thursday in the United States District Court for the Southern District, Eastern Division of Ohio.
The investigation began when Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations Center in Riverside, California, detected an aircraft north of Grand Bahama International Airport. Investigators identified the plain on a flight plan from Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
“The aircraft was observed diverting to Ohio University, Ohio, Gordon K. Bush Airport, which is not a Port of Entry,” court documents stated.
The pilot told investigators he was having mechanical issues, causing his landing in Albany.
Two men have been arrested on federal drug charges after landing a plane full of suspected drugs at Ohio University’s airport on Wednesday.
Sylvain Desjardins and David Ayotte, both Canadian nationals, are in the custody of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after being found carrying nearly 300 lbs. of suspected cocaine on a Piper Navajo twin-engine aircraft, according to a release by ICE.
Both men have appeared in federal court in Columbus on charges of possession with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.
The arrests were made after the plane landed at the Gordon K. Bush Airport on Wednesday afternoon. 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,” the ICE release 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.
Homeland Security is continuing to investigate the “drug-smuggling scheme,” ICE stated in the release.
“The agency is working the case jointly with (Customs and Border Protection), the Ohio University Police Department and the Athens County Sheriff’s Office,” according to the release.
Canadian authorities have also been contacted to assist.
Sylvain Desjardins, of Mirabel, 47, and David Ayotte, also of Mirabel were arrested in Ohio and face charges of possession of 300 pounds of cocaine with intent to distribute.
The amount likely is the largest cocaine seizure in southern Ohio, said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman said.
The charges were read to Sylvain Desjardins, 47, and David Ayotte, 45, both of Mirabel, a suburb of Montreal, by U.S. District Court Magistrate Norah McCann King during a hearing in Columbus on Thursday.
A background search showed that both men had prior convictions for drug offenses, according to an affidavit filed by a Homeland Security Investigations agent.
The only records that could be found Thursday in Canadian courts was for Desjardins, who has a criminal record in Quebec that includes convictions for drug trafficking. In 1998, he was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to possession with intent to trafficking heroin.
In 2002, he was charged in connection with a marijuana-growing operation. Two years later, he pleaded guilty to producing marijuana and to a possession charge. He was sentenced in 2005 to 14 months in prison.
Both men are being held in the Franklin County jail pending a detention hearing on Monday. A preliminary hearing to determine whether there's enough evidence to proceed with the prosecution is scheduled for April 13.
The discussion on Thursday was translated into French for Ayotte. Dejardins understands English. Both are Canadian citizens.
Desjardins is the owner of the Piper PA-31 Navajo and was flying the plane from the Bahamas to Windsor, Canada, when it was detected north of the islands by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations Center, based in Riverside, California.
The center noticed the plane diverted to Gordon K. Bush Ohio University Airport because of mechanical issues. Because the airport is not a port of entry with a customs station, the center notified the Athens County sheriff's office. It also contacted Desjardins of its intent to search his plane.
Desjardins consented and agents discovered 132 bundles, each weighing 1 kilogram. The contents tested positive for cocaine.
Glassman applauded the quick cooperation of the federal agencies with local authorities that led to the seizure and the arrest.
In court Thursday, Desjardin and Ayotte answered yes and no questions, including wanting the court to notify Canadian authorities of their arrests.
Two men from Mirabel were charged Thursday in a U.S. federal court after authorities in Ohio discovered more than 90 kilograms of cocaine inside their small airplane when it was forced to make an emergency landing in the United States.
The plane landed at Ohio University Airport, in Albany, Ohio, Wednesday afternoon. According to Canadian aviation records, the plane is based in Lachute and is registered to Sylvain Desjardins, of Mirabel.
Desjardins, 47, and the other man who was on board, David Ayotte, also of Mirabel, were arrested and face charges of possession of more than five kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute. According to the criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in southern Ohio on Thursday, the aircraft, a Piper PA-31, was detected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday 18 miles north of an airport in the Bahamas. It had a flight plan to land in Windsor, Ont., but diverted to the airport in Ohio during the flight, and Desjardins was the pilot. Both men will be detained for a bail hearing on Monday.
The cocaine was seized after the plane made the unplanned landing. Found were “132 bundles (each weighing approximately 1 kilogram (each),” according to the criminal complaint.
“Once on the ground, the pilot of the aircraft advised he was travelling through U.S. airspace when a mechanical problem forced him to land unexpectedly,” Lt. Tim Ryan of the Ohio University Police Department wrote in a statement released about the incident. “Since the Ohio University airport is a port of entry, Customs and Border Protection requested the occupants of the aircraft be detained until federal agents could respond.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security took over after the plane landed.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that aviation records, based on the tail number of the aircraft, indicate it “has recently made flights over U.S. airspace while travelling between Canada and the Bahamas.”
Desjardins has a criminal record in Quebec that includes convictions for drug trafficking. In 1998, he was sentenced to a two-year prison term after having pleaded guilty, at the Montreal courthouse, to two counts related to possession with the intent to traffic in heroin. In 2002, he was arrested, following an investigation by the RCMP detachment based in St-Jérôme, and was charged in connection with a marijuana grow-operation. Two years later, on Nov. 30, 2004, he pleaded guilty to producing marijuana and to a related possession charge. He was sentenced in 2005 to a 14-month prison term.
According to the complaint: “A review of various database revealed that both Desjardins and Ayotte have prior convictions for drug offences in Canada.”
ALBANY, Ohio - UPDATE: Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) says investigators recovered about 132 kilos, nearly 300 pounds, of cocaine from an unauthorized plane that landed at the Ohio University airport Wednesday.
Court documents show the suspects, identified as Sylvain Desjardins and David Ayotte, were traveling from the Bahamas to Canada when a mechanical issued forced them to land at Ohio University Airport.
Ohio University Police said drugs have been seized from an unauthorized aircraft that landed at the Ohio University airport Wednesday afternoon.
According to Ohio University Police, they were notified by Homeland Security that an international aircraft was landing at the airport without proper authorization around 2:30 p.m.
Police said the pilot of the aircraft told officials he was traveling through United States airspace when a mechanical problem forced him to land.
Because Ohio University airport is not a port of entry, Customs and Border Protection requested those on the plane to be detained until federal agents could respond.
Through a joint investigation, authorities located a ‘significant quantity’ of suspected cocaine concealed in the aircraft, according to Ohio University Police.
The two suspects and the contraband were taken into custody by Homeland Security.
Story and video: http://www.10tv.com
ALBANY, Ohio – Authorities found illegal drugs on board a plane that landed at Ohio University's airport on Wednesday.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security notified Ohio University police and the Athens County Sheriff's Office that an international plane was landing at Gordon K. Bush Ohio University Airport without authorization Wednesday afternoon.
OU police said the pilot reported a mechanical problem, which forced him to land unexpectedly. Officers detained the two people on board until U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents arrived since the airport is not a place of entry into the United States.
Homeland Security said investigators recovered 132 kilos, or 291 pounds, of cocaine from the plane, according to WBNS in Columbus.
Agents took the two suspects into custody.
Homeland Security is now in charge of the investigation.
ATHENS, OH (WCMH) – The Department of Homeland Security, Ohio State Highway Patrol and Athens County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Ohio University Airport after an ‘unauthorized plane’ landed.
It happened Wednesday afternoon at Gordon K. Bush Airport in Albany, Ohio.
Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith said his office detained the plane after it landed until Homeland Security and the Highway Patrol could respond.
Ohio University police issued the following statement regarding the incident.
At about 2:30 p.m. today (March 29, 2017) the Ohio University police department was notified by the Department of Homeland Security that an international aircraft was landing at the Ohio University airport without proper authorization. Once on the ground, the pilot of the aircraft advised he was traveling through U.S. airspace when a mechanical problem forced him to land unexpectedly. Since the Ohio University airport is not a port of entry, Customs and Border Protection requested the occupants of the aircraft be detained until federal agents could respond.
As of 4:30 p.m. today, officers from the Ohio University police department remain at the airport where they are assisting federal agents as they investigate the matter.
Story and video: http://nbc4i.com