COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The leader of a large heroin smuggling ring, with ties to a Mexican drug cartel, received a long prison sentence in Franklin County Court this morning.
Jose Govea-Jimenez, 48, pleaded guilty to several felony counts drug trafficking and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and was sentenced to 21 years in prison.
Govea-Jimenez apologized to the court for dealing heroin, but in his allocution, he downplayed his involvement, which caused the judge to state, “I cannot trust what you say.”
Before Gove-Jimenez’ sentencing, the prosecutor explained the power Jimenez held in the heroin ring.
“This is the ringleader of an organization that is so fear-inspiring, that people who come here from Mexico refuse to testify against him because they know as soon as they are done their family will be murdered in Mexico,” said Assistant Franklin County Prosecutor Dan Stanley.
NBC4 is not identifying a witness who was arrested along with Jimenez last November and testified about heroin buys.
“Why were you introduced to him?” Stanley asked. “For the drugs! Can you be more specific? He was bringing me the drugs to my house. What kind of drugs? Heroin! A kilo and the last time two kilos.”
Stanley said the witness agreed to six years in prison for her part in the heroin smuggling ring. That was eventually pleaded down to four years and 11 months for her testimony.
Stanley says Jimenez was responsible for 7,200 kilos of heroin a month being imported into the US. A kilo is 2.2 pounds.
“How much would you have to pay him for it? Stanley asked the witness. $9,000! And how much did you make on it? $14,500,” she said.
Speaking through an interpreter, Govea-Jimenez’ plea didn’t sit well with the judge.
“This has been overblown,” Cindy Badano repeated in English for the judge. “I have accused of many things, and I apologize,” Govea-Jimenez said.
The judge questioned him before sentencing him, admonishing him about not taking responsibility.
“So I am surprised to hear you say your participation was overblown because I was very intentional about explaining to you the statutory requirements for a conviction,” said Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Kimberly Cocroft.
After serving 21 years behind bars Govea-Jimenez will be subjected to a deportation order.