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Leader of Mexican cartel heroin ring operating in Columbus, Ohio sentenced to 21 years in prison

October 28, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Leader of Mexican cartel heroin ring operating in Columbus, Ohio sentenced to 21 years in prison

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An Ohio judge handed the leader of a Mexican cartel heroin ring over 20 years in prison on Thursday.

Jose Govea-Jimenez was taken into a Franklin County Common Pleas courtroom to find out his fate Thursday morning.

He glanced over his shoulder and gave an icy glare to a few Columbus narcotics investigators observing from the back of the courtroom. His expression softened as he faced his attention to a judge to say through a Spanish interpreter, “I love this country, and I apologize to whoever I have harmed.”

Govea-Jimenez, a Mexican native, will be a senior citizen when he’s finished with a 21-year prison sentence ordered by Judge Kimberly Cocroft. He’ll then be subject to post-release control and will have a hold placed on him by Immigration Customs and Enforcement.

Authorities said 48-year-old Govea-Jimenez, 48, was smuggling as much as 100 kilos of heroin — about 220 pounds—into Columbus on a monthly basis and was working with a Mexican drug cartel as the ringleader of a Columbus-area drug enterprise.

“There’s no way we could calculate the damage your actions have caused,” Cocroft said to Govea-Jimenez during the hearing.

During the probe, Columbus authorities seized 25 kilos — about 55 pounds — of heroin, with a street value of $2.5 million, and took four others into custody who were tied with the drug operation.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, operations were fluid, with locations varying all the time and included residences and storage units in Columbus. Investigators searched the places almost a year ago, seizing 11 guns and over $20,000.

Officials said the Mexican cartel heroin ring used Columbus as a distribution hub for resale.

The ring smuggled drug from Mexico and into Ohio.

Govea-Jimenez came to the U.S. on a visa that permitted him to be only 25 miles north of the border. However, his lawyer, Thomas Lininger, told the court that Govea-Jimenez had resided in the Columbus area for 17 years. His visa is expired. He had no criminal history before this incident.

Govea-Jimenez pleaded guilty to charges of taking part in a corrupt activity and two counts of drug trafficking.

The case was problematic to put together because most people declined to testify against Govea-Jimenez, Assistant Prosecutor Dan Stanley stated. People were worried their families would be harmed in Mexico.

Jennifer Lynn Guy, 33, one of the co-defendants in the case, testified against Govea-Jimenez to reduce her sentence. She told the court she bought heroin from him to sell. Guy said she met him through her husband and had known him for a few months before she was caught. She bought one to two kilos (about 2 to 4 pounds) every week.

Cocroft told Govea-Jimenez, who complained that some of his charges were excessive, that his apology did not seem genuine.

His behavior, the judge stated, “added to an already difficult situation” in an area where heroin has taken such a stronghold.

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