In a significant development in the fight against organized crime, the leader of a drug trafficking organization pleaded guilty to charges of drug trafficking, sex trafficking, and money laundering. Patrick M. Saultz, also known as “White Boy Pat,” confessed to his involvement in a large-scale conspiracy that distributed narcotics, coerced individuals into engaging in sexual activity for profit, and laundered the proceeds. As part of his plea agreement, Saultz will face a prison sentence of 27-30 years. The organization operated for over a decade, flooding the streets of Columbus, Ohio, with illegal drugs, including fentanyl, cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, and more. Additionally, the group ran a sex trafficking operation that exploited women struggling with addiction. Saultz will be required to pay restitution to the victims and forfeit all seized property, including firearms, luxury items, and over $1.7 million in cash. The case was the result of a joint investigation by various law enforcement agencies, highlighting the ongoing efforts to dismantle criminal enterprises and hold their leaders accountable.
Leader of Drug Trafficking Organization Pleads Guilty to Drug Trafficking, Sex Trafficking, and Money Laundering
Plea Agreement Includes Agreed Sentencing Range of 27-30 Years in Prison
In a significant legal development, the leader of a drug trafficking organization has pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including drug trafficking, sex trafficking, and money laundering. The plea agreement includes an agreed sentencing range of 27-30 years in prison. This case highlights the serious consequences that individuals involved in illicit activities can face and serves as a warning to others involved in similar criminal operations.
Background of the Case
The case revolves around a large-scale conspiracy involving narcotics distribution, sex trafficking, fraud, and money laundering. The accused, Patrick M. Saultz, also known as “White Boy Pat,” has admitted to three violations of federal law, including conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances within 1,000 feet of an elementary school, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, and concealment money laundering. The illegal activities took place between January 2008 and 2022.
Drug Trafficking and Sex Trafficking Operation
The organization led by Saultz operated a highly organized drug trafficking network in Columbus, Ohio. They brought in significant quantities of illegal narcotics and sold them in and around the Columbus area. Additionally, the organization coerced individuals into engaging in sexual activity for profit, exploiting vulnerable individuals for their own gain. The controlled substances involved in the operation included fentanyl, cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, oxycodone, and alprazolam. These substances were trafficked to individuals in northern Ohio, Columbus, and West Virginia.
Money Laundering and Property Seizure
Saultz and a co-conspirator co-owned and operated multiple pieces of real estate, which they acquired using money from their illegal activities. The funds were laundered to conceal the illegal proceeds and to fund further criminal activities. One of the properties used for drug-dealing was located across the street from Burroughs Elementary School in Columbus. As part of the investigation, law enforcement authorities seized significant assets, including two cars, a motorcycle, dozens of firearms, a Rolex watch, and over $1.7 million in cash. These assets will be forfeited as part of the legal process.
Grand Jury Indictment and Additional Charges
Saultz and ten others were initially indicted by a federal grand jury in July 2022. A superseding indictment in October 2022 added 13 defendants and included 28 new charges related to the narcotics conspiracy, including firearms offenses and an overdose causing serious bodily injury. Charges against the other individuals involved in the criminal operation are still pending.
Investigation and Law Enforcement Agencies Involved
The investigation into this extensive criminal network was coordinated by The Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, formed under the Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission. Several law enforcement agencies, including the Columbus Division of Police, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, played crucial roles in uncovering the extent of the drug and sex trafficking operation. Other agencies, such as the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, HIDTA Task Force, IRS-Criminal Investigation, FBI, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI), Ohio National Guard Counter Drug Task Force, Pickerington Police Department, New Albany Police Department, and the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team, assisted in the investigation.
Restitution and Forfeiture Requirements
As part of the plea agreement, Saultz is required to pay restitution to the victims of sex trafficking. Additionally, he will forfeit all property seized during the investigation, including the aforementioned assets such as vehicles, firearms, cash, and real estate. These measures are aimed at providing some form of compensation to the victims and preventing further illicit activities by removing the resources used to carry out the criminal operation.
Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Operation
This investigation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF is a program that identifies, disrupts, and dismantles high-level criminal organizations that pose a significant threat to the United States. OCDETF employs a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach to tackle organized crime and drug trafficking. The successful outcome of this case underscores the effectiveness of such operations in combating complex criminal networks.
The guilty plea entered by the leader of the drug trafficking organization highlights the substantial progress made in dismantling illicit operations that pose a grave danger to the community. The agreed sentencing range of 27-30 years in prison demonstrates the serious nature of the crimes committed. This case serves as a stark reminder that engaging in drug trafficking, sex trafficking, and money laundering will lead to severe legal consequences. The collaborative efforts of various law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation and prosecution reflect their unwavering commitment to ensuring public safety and combating organized crime.
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