The Central Ohio HIDTA Drug Task Force and other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies recent investigation to target and dismantle large-scale drug trafficking as led to the sentencing, yesterday, of Levi Winston, 50, of Columbus, to more than 11 years in federal prison, after he pleaded guilty on May 2, 2013 to charges of conspiracy to possess and distribute more than 1000 kg of marijuana and money laundering.
During the course of the investigation, Winston, who was the leader of a known drug trafficking organization, transported several tons of marijuana from Mexico to Central Ohio. On October 17, 2011, ICE and HSI special agents along with task force officers conducted a controlled delivery of 1,798.12 pounds of marijuana to a warehouse that Winston rented in Gahanna, Ohio. Winston and his associates hid large quantities of the drugs inside tractor trailers and industrial machinery destined for his warehouse, which later led to their arrest on conspiracy to distribute marijuana charges. In addition to the marijuana seized by investigators in Columbus, cooperation from individuals and intelligence gathered during this investigation directly led to the seizure of an additional 3,500 pounds of marijuana, worth more than $3 million, in several other jurisdictions across the United States.
"Mr. Winston’s conduct is that of bringing in a literal mountain of marijuana into the Southern District of Ohio," Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Hunter told the court at sentencing. "His admitted relevant conduct is approximately 5,000 kilos of marijuana which has an approximate street value of between $4 and $4.5 million."
As a result of this investigation, nine other individuals pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute narcotics or conspiracy charges:
- Didnicio Diaz-Barrera – Sentenced Oct.10, 2012, to 33 months in federal prison.
- Adan Anaya – Sentenced June 6, 2012, to 57 months in federal prison.
- Pedro Barrera-Diaz – Sentenced June 10, 2012, to 33 months in federal prison.
- Alberto Hernandez – Sentenced June 6, 2012, to 12 months in federal prison.
- Antonio Andriao – Sentenced May 1, 2012, to 21 months in federal prison.
- Steven Johnson – Sentenced Aug. 8 to 60 months in federal prison.
- Robert Crook – Sentenced Sept. 20 to 12 months in federal prison.
- Jose Garza – Sentenced Sept. 17 to 46 months in federal prison.
- Marco Torres – Sentenced Aug. 8 to 24 months in federal prison.