Columbia Man Pleads Guilty to Marijuana Trafficking
Co-Conspirator Murdered During Home Invasion, Theft of U-Haul with Hundreds of Pounds of Marijuana
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A Columbia, Missouri, man pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a conspiracy to distribute marijuana that involved another Columbia man who was murdered during a home invasion in which hundreds of pounds of marijuana in a rented U-Haul truck was stolen.
Blake Jeffrey Johnson, 24, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Willie J. Epps, Jr., to one count of conspiracy to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to today’s plea agreement, Johnson received high-grade marijuana from Augustus Roberts and received thousands of dollars per month from Roberts to distribute marijuana to co-conspirators.
Roberts was murdered at his residence on Dec. 10, 2017. At the time of Roberts’ murder, a U-Haul truck rented by Johnson had been parked in the driveway of Roberts’ residence, but was stolen during the home invasion. Prior to its theft, the U-Haul truck contained approximately 800 pounds of marijuana belonging to Roberts and his drug enterprise.
Columbia police officers found the U-Haul truck on Dec. 11, 2017. Officers seized six boxes that contained a total of 94 gallon-sized bags of marijuana, five boxes that contained a total of 3,199 THC vaporizer cartridges, and three electric currency bill counters.
Roberts also distributed thousands of pounds of marijuana to other co-conspirators for between $800 and $2,500 per pound.
According to the plea agreement, co-conspirators brought large amounts of cash to Johnson’s house in backpacks. Johnson concealed the cash from the drug proceeds in his bedroom dresser drawers or in his kitchen cabinets. Johnson gave his mother cash from the drug proceeds every month to pay his truck and mortgage payments. Johnson’s mother deposited the drug-trafficking proceeds into her bank account, the plea agreement says, and used the money to purchase three firearms in November 2016. In January 2017, some of the drug-trafficking money was used to purchase a flamethrower.
On Dec. 11, 2017, Johnson delivered approximately 200 pounds of marijuana to co-defendant Christopher Michael Bradshaw, 26, of Harrisburg, Missouri. Bradshaw agreed to store the marijuana for Johnson, who mentioned that “something” happened in the Old Hawthorne neighborhood in Columbia the night before. Bradshaw immediately searched the internet and discovered that Roberts had been murdered during a home invasion. Bradshaw, angry at being put in a bad position, torched the boxes two or three days later to destroy the marijuana.
Johnson is the fifth defendant to plead guilty in this case. Bradshaw pleaded guilty on Oct. 28, 2019, to one count of possessing 50 kilograms or more of marijuana with the intent to distribute. Bradshaw admitted that he sold marijuana to his co-workers and friends to support his use of the drug. Bradshaw purchased marijuana from Johnson for approximately $2,800 per pound. Bradshaw also admitted that he stored marijuana for Johnson.
Co-defendant Nader Robert Osama Yanis, 24, of Columbia, pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute at least 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and was sentenced to two years in federal prison without parole. His father, Osama Nadir Yanis, 49, of Columbia, pleaded guilty to his role in the drug-trafficking conspiracy and to possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime. Osama Yanis, the owner of Coffee Zone, a coffee shop in Columbia, has not been sentenced.
Co-defendant Dylan James Blake, 29, of Columbia, pleaded guilty to using a cell phone to facilitate the drug-trafficking conspiracy and awaits sentencing.
Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Johnson must forfeit to the government his residential property in Columbia that was purchased with drug-trafficking proceeds, $85,690 that was seized by law enforcement officers, and a money judgment of $104,964, he obtained through the marijuana-trafficking conspiracy and was involved in the money-laundering conspiracy.
Under federal statutes, Johnson is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. It was investigated by the FBI, the Columbia, Mo., Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration.