Columbus man going to prison for 130-pound marijuana shipment

By Gary Huffenberger -



WILMINGTON — A second man has gone to prison for taking part in a shipment of almost 130 pounds of marijuana from California to Wilmington.

Ryan J. Ward, 27, of Columbus, was one of the two men charged following the November 2015 shipment. He received a two-year prison term on Thursday after being found guilty of attempted trafficking in marijuana.

His co-defendant, Sean Brian Lewie, 27, of California with family connections in Columbus, Ohio, was ordered to serve a nine-month term of state prison. Lewie, like Ward, was convicted of attempted trafficking in marijuana.

In fall 2015, the Department of Homeland Security advised the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office that a suspicious package was shipped by Ward and was en route to the R&L Carriers transportation facility near Wilmington, according to an affidavit by Clinton County Sgt. Det. Doug Eastes.

From Wilmington, the crate was to be shipped to an address in Bainbridge, Ohio. But a drug detection dog alerted on the suspicious crate in Clinton County, and a search of the crate’s contents yielded 131 individually wrapped bags of marijuana, stated the affidavit.

Law enforcement personnel repackaged the contents into the crate, and Ward and Lewie arrived at R&L Carriers to pick it up, according to the affidavit.

The two men removed the box containing marijuana from the crate and loaded it into a pickup truck and left. A traffic stop was conducted, and Ward admitted he knew the crate held marijuana while Lewie declined to give a statement to officers, the affidavit stated.

The wrapped bags of marijuana bore individual markings on the bags indicating the strain of marijuana inside, stated Clinton County Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck in his written judgment entry.

Because a motor vehicle was used in the transport of the illegal drug, Ward’s operator license was suspended for two years.

Ward agreed to forfeit to the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office the $449 seized from him.

As part of a plea agreement between prosecution and Ward that led to Ward’s guilty plea, prosecutors stated they would not be opposed to the defendant being released from prison on judicial release after 180 days.

Rudduck stated he was not inclined — without “good cause demonstrated” — to grant Ward an early judicial release from prison followed by local supervision. The judge noted the Ohio Risk Assessment Report shows a high risk of recidivism for Ward. Further, Rudduck pointed to the difficulty of providing local supervision to an out-of-county resident.

Nonetheless, Rudduck stated that given prosecution’s statement it has no objection to a judicial release after six months of incarceration, the judge wrote he too “may not object” after six months to an early release program for which Ward might be eligible through programming offered by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Ward pled guilty to the attempted trafficking charge in late October. Prosecution agreed to an “extended date” for the sentencing hearing due to Ward’s fiancé expecting a child in late December, according to court paperwork.

At another recent sentencing hearing in Clinton County Common Pleas Court:

• Christopher C. Jurgens, 46, of Xenia, was given a suspended six-month jail term (time credit for five days already served), and was placed under community controls for two years on a conviction for possessing heroin.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.


By Gary Huffenberger