COLUMBUS, Ohio – A woman has been indicted on charges that she made 14 airplane trips to transport marijuana from California to Ohio between November and her arrest in June, when authorities say she flew to Columbus with hundreds of pounds of the drug in her suitcases.
Lisette Lee flew from Van Nuys, Calif., on a private jet with a bodyguard and about 500 pounds of marijuana in 13 suitcases, federal investigators said.
She told investigators she planned to visit a boyfriend and transport equipment to a horse farm, authorities said. She also said a friend paid her $60,000 to take suitcases from Los Angeles to an unattended hotel room in Columbus, stay for a few days and return with fewer pieces of luggage, the government said.
Lee, of Los Angeles, is charged with one count of conspiracy and 14 counts alleging she had marijuana with intent to distribute, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Columbus. Five other people also are charged.
Lee is accused of taking the drug to Columbus, Toledo, Dayton and Hamilton. She's been in federal custody since her arrest at Port Columbus International Airport on June 14.
Defense attorney James Owen said other people were to blame.
"Lisette finds herself in this predicament because of some unfortunate people she met at a very vulnerable point in her life," said Owen, of Columbus.
He said Lee, 28, was working with relatives "to try to deal with this situation as best she can."
Lee's family intends to argue for her release on bond and will cooperate with law enforcement in "any way possible," according to a statement released Wednesday by a family representative.
Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea, and her birth parents asked friends to serve as her "honorary adopted parents" and raise her in the United States, the family statement said. She became a U.S. citizen in 2000, it said.
Lee had previously pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute in connection with the June arrest.
Five other California residents were charged in the indictment unsealed Wednesday with conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute.
Federal authorities said Frank Edwards, of Hacienda, Calif., and Ko Young, of Winnetka, Calif., were arrested Wednesday and will be moved to Columbus for federal court hearings after court appearances in California.
Christopher Cash and Henry Hernandez, both of Los Angeles, have been issued summonses to appear in court in Columbus. Authorities continue to look for David Garrett, of Culver City, Calif.
No attorneys were listed for the five defendants in online court records.
The indictment didn't provide details of the 14 flights.