Columbus man faces 20 to 23 years in prison as part of narcotics guilty plea involving killing of another Columbus resident


Date: March 27, 2024


Columbus, OH — A Columbus man pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court today to a drug crime and admitted to his role in the killing of a local man. The defendant is one of nearly two dozen individuals charged in a case involving a large-scale drug and human trafficking ring.

Dustin A. Speakman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances within 1,000 of an elementary school. As part of his plea, Speakman admitted to his role in the death of one victim which occurred during the time he was operating a drug distribution house. His plea includes a sentencing recommendation of 20 to 23 years in prison.

Speakman, who is also known as “Dawg,” is one of 23 defendants charged in a narcotics and human trafficking case that involves at least two deaths.

According to court documents, from 2008 until June 2022, lead defendants Patrick Saultz and Cordell Washington ran a large-scale drug trafficking organization in Columbus that included sex trafficking, labor trafficking, and money laundering.

Court documents detail that the drug trafficking organization brought large quantities of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycodone, alprazolam and marijuana into Columbus. These drugs were sold or used to coerce individuals into sexual activity for some members of the drug ring and their profit.

Speakman joined the drug trafficking organization after being released from jail in 2022, where he was housed with Saultz. Speakman was a mid-level drug distributor for the group out of residences on South Ogden and South Warren.

As part of his guilty plea, Speakman admitted to severely beating one of his drug runners in May 2022 and then providing him with free drugs to make up for the attack. Witnesses said the male was beaten by Speakman and then given cocaine and fentanyl as compensation. Shortly after, the victim began to seize and foam at the mouth and did not respond to Narcan. The victim was driven to an alley near Grant Hospital where he was found unconscious by Columbus Fire Department personnel with severe trauma to the face and head. His cause of death was ultimately determined to be blunt force trauma caused by Speakman.

“Any loss of life is significant,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker. “Our office will continue to work to hold perpetrators of illegal drug trafficking accountable and secure justice for victims of violent and drug-related deaths.”

As of today, 18 of the 23 defendants have pleaded guilty. One defendant, Carmela Brooks, has been sentenced and received a term of imprisonment of five years.

U.S. Attorney Parker commended the investigation coordinated by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, which includes Columbus Division of Police Chief Elaine Bryant; Shawn Gibson, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Orville O. Greene, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Other agencies that have assisted the task force with the investigation include the IRS Criminal Investigation (CI), Franklin County Sheriff's Office, HIDTA Task Force, 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.

Assistant United States Attorneys Timothy Prichard and Emily Czerniejewski are representing the United States in this case.

This investigation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multiagency approach.

CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining a more than a 90 percent federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 12 attaché posts abroad.