UPDATE: Passenger in unauthorized plane detained at Ohio University Airport gets more than five years in prison

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ATHENS, Ohio (WTAP) - Update: 10/13/2017 10:00 A.M.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A Canadian passenger on a plane forced to make an emergency landing in Ohio with 290 pounds (132 kilograms) of cocaine onboard has been sentenced to just over five years in federal prison.

The Columbus Dispatch reports 46-year-old David Ayotte was sentenced to 63 months Thursday in Columbus after pleading guilty to a drug charge in June.

Ayotte was aboard a twin-engine plane that landed at Ohio University's airport in March after an engine began smoking. The plane was met by local and federal authorities. The Windsor, Ontario-bound plane had been tracked by U.S. authorities after leaving the Bahamas.

Ayotte apologized in court through a French interpreter. His defense attorney said the criminal case has caused hardship for Ayotte's family

The plane's Canadian pilot, 48-year-old Sylvain Desjardins, awaits sentencing.


UPDATE: 7/30/17 7:35 P.M.

The Columbus Dispatch reports Sylvain Desjardins, 48, entered a plea Friday to possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

A judge ordered Desjardins to remain jailed until sentencing.

The Canadian pilot landed the twin-engine plane at Ohio University's airport in March after an engine began smoking.

The plane was met by Sheriff's deputies, University police officers, and federal agents.

290 pounds of cocaine were found on-board.

Desjardins' attorney says his client has refused to cooperate with authorities.

David Ayotte. 46, a passenger, pleaded guilty to a drug charge last month.


UPDATE: 3/29/17 11:30 P.M.

Authorities have located what appears to be a 'significant quantity' of cocaine on the plane following an investigation conducted by the Ohio University Police Department, the Athens County Sheriff's Office, Customs and Border Protection, and the Department of Homeland Security.

There were two occupants in the plane when it landed and both were detained until Customs and Border Protection arrived on scene.

The two suspects were taken into custody by Homeland Security and transported to Columbus. The contraband was also sent to Ohio’s capital.

The investigation is now being handled by Homeland Security.


ORIGINAL STORY: 3/29/17 8:00 P.M.

An international plane that landed at Gordon K. Bush Ohio University Airport without proper authorization is under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security.

According to a press release on the Ohio University Police Department's Twitter page, the plane landed at the airport at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The pilot said he was traveling through U.S. airspace when he was forced to land due to mechanical issues.

Custom and Border Protection requested the occupants of the plane be detained due to the fact that the airport is not a port of entry.

As of 4:30 p.m., the Ohio University Police Department and federal agents were investigating the matter.

There is no word on how many people were on board or where the plane originated.



 
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