COLUMBUS, Ohio – The lead of 11 defendants charged as part of a national narcotics distribution operation bringing drugs into Central Ohio from California pleaded guilty in federal court here today.
Isabel Odir Castellanos, of Los Angeles, and the other defendants were arrested in June 2022.
According to court documents, Castellanos transported narcotics from Los Angeles to Columbus via semi-truck. Castellanos is a business owner of a transportation company and a semi-truck driver who frequently travels across the United States.
Castellanos delivered the narcotics to a co-defendant’s residence in Columbus, which served as a stash house. Co-conspirators then allegedly delivered the drugs to mid-level retail distributors. Those mid-level retailers then allegedly sold the drugs in Central Ohio, Youngstown, Ohio, Springfield, Ohio and in West Virginia.
Castellanos would then collect the drug proceeds before returning to California.
This case involves what is believed to be the largest single fentanyl seizure in the Southern District of Ohio, involving millions of dollars’ worth of the drug.
As part of this investigation, law enforcement has seized more than 100 pounds of narcotics, including 115,000 fentanyl-laced pills that make up part of the 76 kilograms of total fentanyl, nearly half a million dollars in cash, 7 firearms and 4 vehicles.
Charges remain pending against 10 individuals from Columbus, Springfield and Youngstown, Ohio, and from West Virginia, and nine of those individuals have pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking conspiracy crimes.
Many of the individual drug transactions charged involve tens of thousands of dollars. For example, one drug transaction detailed in an affidavit describes a co-defendant transporting 5,000 fentanyl pills to another co-defendant’s home in Columbus in exchange for $36,000.
Conspiring to distribute or possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl is a federal crime punishable by at least 10 years and up to life in prison.
Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; and Orville O. Greene, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced the guilty plea entered today before Chief U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley. Mr. Parker and Mr. Greene commended the cooperative investigation including the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), the Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center, Ohio State Highway Patrol and Springfield Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Michael J. Hunter is representing the United States in this case.
This investigation was conducted as part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) initiative. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about OCDETF can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
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