STATE PROSECUTION OF 35 DRUG CASES IN JOINT EFFORT WITH FEDERAL PROSECUTION OF 8 CASES IS CONCLUDED WITH NEARLY MILLION SEIZED
Posted on 10/16/2020
Defendant: multiple defendants
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The final two of eight defendants in a $44 million money-laundering case were convicted today when they pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court. Two other co-conspirators were sentenced today in federal court as well. Local and federal law enforcement, working in conjunction, spent years investigating large-scale narcotics traffickers in an effort that ultimately brought down the money-laundering ring.
Between 2013 and September 2019, the defendants conspired to distribute heroin, fentanyl and marijuana and commit large-scale money laundering. The schemes relied on the use of small businesses that held themselves out as cell phone stores. The stores sold few, if any, cell phones, and they conducted little, if any, legitimate business otherwise. Rather, the stores were merely front businesses for drug traffickers to send large amounts of money related to their drug trafficking from Columbus to Mexico. Jose Luis Rosales-Ocampo, 57, of Columbus, ran the so-called cell phone stores: Los Rosales on Shady Lane Road, Los Rosales 2 on East Main Street and Express Cellular on Eastland Square Drive.
In total, the joint state—federal efforts led to the prosecution of eight defendants federally and 35 defendants by the Franklin County Prosecutor's office. The investigation and prosecution of these defendants removed approximately 34 kilograms of heroin, 516 grams of cocaine, 76 grams of fentanyl and 250 pounds of marijuana from Central Ohio streets. Investigators seized $458,500 in U.S. currency as part of the investigation and prosecution of these cases. Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said. "Thanks to our law enforcement partners, at least 40 defendants are no longer doing business in Central Ohio and a significant amount of illegal drugs have been removed from our community." One of the lead drug distributors, Julio Angel Homer Gonzalez, 43, was sentenced today to 120 Months in prison. One of the money launderers, Josue Gama-Perez, 39, of Pickerington, will be sentenced next week. Eliezar Mendoza-Nava, 25, and Rodrigo Esqueda-Vazquez, 33, each pleaded guilty today. Three of the other five defendants — Jose Rosales-Ocampo, Thania Rosales-Guadarrama and Rudolfo Franco-Valdez — also previously pleaded guilty and currently await sentencing.