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Teen Drug 'Czar' Pleads Guilty in $3M Pot Ring

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on August 01, 2012 7:05 AM

An alleged teen drug "czar" will likely spend three years in juvenile detention after he pleaded guilty to heading up a $3 million pot ring. His alleged adult accomplices, however, could face harsher penalties.

Tyler Pagenstecher, 17, of Mason, Ohio, entered guilty pleas in juvenile court to two counts of felony drug trafficking, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

The high-school senior's extracurricular activities allegedly involved cultivating marijuana at grow houses in several Cincinnati suburbs, and selling the pot to rich high-school students near his home, investigators said. Six other minors and seven adults were also arrested.

After Tyler Pagenstecher's court appearance Tuesday, the prosecutor noted the accused teen drug czar's remorseful behavior.

"You saw someone who was fairly soft-spoken and who did appear to recognize the gravity of what was going on," the prosecutor told the Associated Press. "Anytime you come in for an initial appearance and admit guilt -- you typically don't see something like that happen."

Pagenstecher's lawyer declined to answer reporters' questions, including why his client admitted guilt.

While Pagenstecher and the other minors face possible juvenile detention if convicted, the adults could face lengthy prison sentences. The seven are charged with a wide range of felonies including marijuana cultivation, possession, and trafficking, the AP reports.

A regional anti-drug task force busted the teen drug czar after a year-long investigation that included undercover marijuana buys, Cincinnati's WKRC-TV reports. That could raise the possibility of entrapment as a defense, but attorneys have not yet disclosed their defense strategies. Trials for the accused adults are set to begin in late September.

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