COLUMBUS, OH – Lisette Lee, 29, of Los Angeles, California and Frank S. Edwards, 40, of Hacienda, California, each plead guilty in United States District Court today to conspiring to transport 14 separate shipments of large quantities of marijuana from Los Angeles to Columbus, Ohio on a private jet.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Robert L. Corso, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Detroit Field Division announced the plea, which was entered today before U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley.
Lee plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. Her crime is punishable by at least ten years and up to life in prison. Edwards plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. His crime carries a minimum sentence of five years and up to 40 years imprisonment. Judge Marbley will schedule a date for sentencing.
According to statements read by a DEA Special Agent during the plea hearings, Lee and Edwards participated in a large-scale marijuana distribution organization between November 2009 and June 2010. This group was responsible for the transport and distribution of approximately 14 separate shipments during this time period, with each shipment consisting of approximately 500 pounds of marijuana. It is conservatively estimated that this organization distributed 7000 pounds of marijuana and realized a net profit of over $3 million dollars during the time of the conspiracy.
Lee was the primary courier and “face” of a group of four to five individuals. Edwards was recruited by Lee to act as a courier only and was not directly related to the source of supply or the distribution of the marijuana. Lee paid Edwards several thousand dollars for his involvement. Lee participated in organizing the other couriers, the logistics of each trip, the leasing of the charter aircraft, and the payment of the other couriers at the conclusion of each trip.
DEA agents arrested Lee on June 14, 2010 after she landed at Port Columbus International Airport on a private jet chartered to fly them from Van Nuys, California. Agents found 23 bales of marijuana weighing approximately 229.9 kilograms/505.78 pounds of marijuana in 13 large suitcases that had been offloaded from the private plane carrying Lee. She has been in custody since her arrest. Edwards was a passenger on that trip. He was questioned, released and later charged in a superseding indictment on September 16, 2010.
Others charged in addition to Lee and Edwards include David C. Garrett, 28, of Culver City, California who pleaded guilty on November 10, 2010 to the same charge as Lee. He is in custody and awaiting sentencing. Charges are pending against three other individuals. The investigation is continuing.
Stewart commended the DEA agents who are conducting the ongoing investigation and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Prichard, who is prosecuting the case.