FINAL DEFENDANT IN POT TRAFFICKING CONSPIRACY SENTENCED TO TEN YEARS IN PRISON
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27, 2013
Public Affairs Officer
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Antwane J. Rhodes, aka “Rho”, 34, formerly of Springfield, Ohio was sentenced in U.S. District Court today to 120 months in prison, fined $5,000 and ordered to forfeit cash, vehicles and jewelry for his leadership role in a major marijuana trafficking organization in the Columbus area.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Denise Rocawich, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS), Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott and Columbus Police Chief Kimberley Jacobs announced the sentence imposed today by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson.
Rhodes pleaded guilty on September 25, 2012 to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and one count of money laundering.
According to court documents, the investigation into the organization began in 2007. Sources identified Rhodes as one of the leaders of a drug trafficking organization that included Springfield. Loads of marijuana were received from a variety of sources, sometimes via shipment to a warehouse on the west side of Columbus. Rhodes also received shipments of 100 – 200 pounds of marijuana delivered on a motorcycle trailer to his house.
“At its peak, the organization was receiving between 1,200 and 1,800 pounds of marijuana in a month,” U.S. Attorney Stewart said. “The organization was generating hundreds of thousands of dollars a year through the sale of illegal drugs.”
Evidence shows Rhodes laundered the money he was receiving from the sale of the marijuana by buying vehicles and custom jewelry, making deposits into bank accounts of a small company called T & J Investments of Ohio LTD and other means. Rhodes made trips to Las Vegas with his co-conspirators and gave each of them just under $10,000 cash to carry with them.
Rhodes was ordered to forfeit his interests in three vehicles, more than $27,000 in cash seized during execution of a search warrant and ten pieces of jewelry.
Four Springfield men and one other defendant from Columbus have already been sentenced for their roles in the conspiracy.
Marc Clark, 32, was sentenced on January 7, 2013 to 100 months in prison. Steve Blackmon, 33, was sentenced November 29, 2012 to 15 months in prison. Jayson Reed, 31, was sentenced on February 27, 2013 to 12 months and a day, Shawnte M. Lynn, 35, was sentenced on January 25, 2013 to 15 months in prison. Erik Neely, 34, of Columbus, was sentenced on January 25, 2013 to 18 months in prison.
Rhodes has been in custody since June 2012.
U.S. Attorney Stewart commended the cooperative long-term investigation by Columbus Police officers, Franklin County deputies and IRS agents, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Kelley, who represented the United States in this case.