Last of five defendants sentenced in huge heroin-trafficking case

The last of five defendants in a drug-trafficking operation that supplied dealers with what Franklin County prosecutors called "astronomical" amounts of heroin was sentenced on Wednesday to four years in prison. 

Omar E. Sanchez, 27, pleaded guilty in March to one count of drug trafficking. Common Pleas Judge Jenifer French gave him the shortest sentence among the defendants, calling him the "least culpable" of those involved in the case. 

"I do appreciate your remorse," French told Sanchez after he apologized through a Spanish-language interpreter. But she said his feelings paled in comparison with the anguish "of those whose loved ones have fallen victim to heroin in our community." 

Sanchez appeared to be a large-scale customer rather than having a direct role in the operation, Assistant Prosecutor Dan Stanley said at a previous hearing. 

All of the defendants are undocumented immigrants who will be deported after completing their prison sentences. 

The leader of the operation, Julio H. Gomez, 27, was sentenced in June to 22 years in prison after pleading guilty to engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and nine counts of drug trafficking. 

A sentencing memo prepared by Stanley said Gomez and his accomplices stored and distributed heroin at eight locations in the county, including seven luxury apartments. 

From June through August 2015, through controlled buys, search warrants and ledgers kept by the organization, investigators seized or found records of 14,661 grams of heroin — enough to create more than 439,000 hits for users, Stanley wrote. 

"The amount of heroin that can be provably attributable to this case is astronomical in its scope and context," according to his memo. "This case more than doubles the most heroin in any investigation in state court that this county has seen during the current heroin/opioid epidemic." 

The others defendants are Raul Nunez-Altamirano, 37, sentenced in July to 12 1/2 years in prison; Anibal L. Acosta, 33, sentenced in July to six years in prison; and Manuel Montero, 23, sentenced in June to six years in prison. All reached plea agreements with prosecutors. 

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