New defendant pleads guilty in conspiracy involving $44 million in drug proceeds laundered to Mexico through local cell phone store fronts
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Richard R. Edwards, 29, of Columbus, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 180 months in prison for distributing heroin and fentanyl that resulted in the death or serious bodily injury of another.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Steve Francis, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin and other members of the Sheriff’s Office’s Heroin Overdose Prevention & Education (HOPE) Task Force announced the sentence handed down today by Chief U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr.
According to court documents, Edwards admitted that his distribution of heroin and fentanyl led to a non-fatal overdose of a Columbus man in August 2016, and a fatal overdose of a Columbus woman in December 2016.
Edwards was arrested in March 2017 and has remained in custody since. He pleaded guilty to distribution of heroin in August 2017.
“Drug dealers like Edwards who traffic in fentanyl deal death,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “I want them to know that they face lengthy terms in federal prison for that conduct. Trafficking in deadly opioids must stop.”
“This defendant's conviction and subsequent significant prison term demonstrates HSI's unrelenting resolve to bring to justice those responsible for distributing this lethal poison in our communities,” said Steve Francis, Special Agent in Charge with Homeland Security Investigations. “HSI will continue our close collaboration with all members of the Ohio law enforcement community, including the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office who initiated this case, to combat this deadly scourge.”
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by HSI and HOPE Task Force officers, as well as Deputy Criminal Chief Michael J. Hunter and Assistant United States Attorney Kelly A. Norris, who are representing the United States in this case.
Established in 2016, the Heroin Overdose Prevention & Education Task Force was created as a restructuring of the Franklin County Drug Task Force. Experienced narcotics and homicide detectives working on the HOPE Task Force are treating opiate overdose scenes as crime scenes, investigating the source of the supply that caused the overdose. This case represents the first federal prosecution of a “death-resulting” case in Columbus that stemmed from a joint investigation with the HOPE Task Force.
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