New defendant pleads guilty in conspiracy involving $44 million in drug proceeds laundered to Mexico through local cell phone store fronts
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Richard Spriggs, Sr., 47, of Columbus, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 46 months in prison for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, conspiring to commit money laundering and for the unlawful possession of a firearm. In addition, Spriggs was ordered to forfeit approximately $86,000 in cash, firearms and ammunition. Spriggs previously pleaded guilty to these charges on August 27, 2015.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Joseph P. Reagan, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Troy N. Stemen, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office and Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs, announced the sentence handed down today by Senior U.S. District Judge George C. Smith.
According to court documents, Spriggs and others in an organization were responsible for distributing multiple kilograms of marijuana by use of Ohio residences, business fronts, commercial freight, semi tractor-trailers and vehicles. Spriggs and others transported in excess of 100 kilograms of marijuana to various places in Columbus, Ohio from suppliers in Houston, Texas. The drug shipments were disguised as hair care products, beauty supplies and whole grain rice.
During the execution of a search warrant, Spriggs and others were observed removing numerous packages, which contained approximately 500 kilograms of marijuana, that were concealed inside approximately 12-15 pool tables.
Spriggs used the drug proceeds to purchase assets and to fund bank accounts through the use of nominees. Spriggs purchased a residence by paying cash. In addition, Spriggs used pre-paid debit cards which he funded in another person’s name as his personal credit card and used them to purchase air travel, rent vehicles and pay for cellular telephone bills.
“The laundering of illegal drug profits is as important and essential to drug traffickers as the very distribution of their illegal drugs. Without these ill-gotten gains, the traffickers could not finance their organizations,” said Troy N. Stemen, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.
U.S. Attorney Stewart commended the cooperative investigation by law enforcement, as well as Assistant United States Attorney Kenneth F. Affeldt, who is representing the United States in this case.