Drug Enforcement Administration


Keith Martin , Special Agent in Charge

July 03, 2013

Contact: Brian McNeal

Phone Number: (571) 362-1498

Columbus Man Gets 5 Year Sentence In Marijuana And Cocaine Distribution Case

July 3, 2013
Contact: Public Information Officer
Number: (313) 234-4310

COLUMBUS, Ohio - James E. Johnston, a/k/a “Monk,” 50, of Columbus was sentenced to 72 months in prison, five years of supervised release, a $1,000 fine, and ordered to forfeit three real estate properties located in Columbus for his role in distributing marijuana and cocaine in the Columbus, Ohio area.

Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, U.S. Drug Enforcement (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Robert L. Corso, and Kathy A. Enstrom, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue (IRS), announced the sentence handed down July 1 by Senior U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus.

In December 2012, Johnston pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana and five kilograms or more of cocaine, and to one count of money laundering.

According to court documents, in November 2007, the DEA, IRS, and Columbus Police began investigating a marijuana trafficking organization operating in the Columbus area. Their investigation revealed that multi-thousand pounds of marijuana were being transported from Arizona to the Columbus area.

Between the mid 2000’s and October 2008, Johnston was directly involved with this marijuana trafficking organization that used recreational vehicles, trailers, tractors trailers, and rental vehicles to transport marijuana and bulk currency to and from Arizona and Ohio. The organization utilized stash houses and other locations in central Ohio to receive and distribute large shipments of marijuana. In addition, Johnston received more than five kilograms of cocaine from Arizona for distribution in the Columbus, Ohio area.

Also, between 2000 and 2008 Johnston used the proceeds and profits from the narcotics conspiracies to conduct numerous financial transactions in excess of $10,000, in which he invested in real estate and real estate renovations, and obtained loans from financial institutions in an effort to launder his narcotics proceeds and profits.

Johnston will forfeit the following real estate properties located in Columbus, Ohio at 1334-1336 West Broad Street, 52 North Rogers Avenue, and 300 Cypress Avenue.

U.S. Attorney Stewart acknowledged the investigation by special agents and officers of IRS-Criminal Investigation, DEA, and the Columbus Division of Police, as well as Assistant United States Attorneys David DeVillers and Michael Hunter who represented the United States in this case.

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