Florida man who ran violent drug house sentenced to federal prison

A North Port man was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison on Thursday for drug trafficking and firearms-related charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.

Ashanti Roundtree, 44, was found guilty of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and heroin, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon in April.

In a press release, prosecutors called Roundtree an “armed career criminal” and said that he qualified for a longer prison sentence due to prior convictions.

According to testimony presented at trial, Roundtree directed illegal drug sales from a “trap house” in North Port from October 2014 to February 2015, and for an unknown period of time before that.

“Roundtree supplied drugs to the residents of the house, who then sold the drugs to others on Roundtree’s behalf, purchased the drugs for their own use, or used them (with the promise of paying Roundtree later),” the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Roundtree trafficked in heroin, cocaine, cocaine base, spice, marijuana and a variety of prescription pills.

Prosecutors say Roundtree supervised drug transactions and set prices and hours of sales. He also sold drugs directly to customers or offered drugs in exchange for sexual favors.

“During the illegal activities, Roundtree used violence, fear and intimidation to maintain his position as leader of the conspiracy,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

According to testimony, Roundtree commonly carried a gun for protection, which he was legally prohibited from doing due to his status as a convicted felon.

Co-conspirators and others witnessed Roundtree pistol-whip an individual with the gun and point it at others.

A search carried out at the drug house on Feb. 26, 2015 found a loaded firearm and ammunition magazine that had Roundtree’s DNA on them. Agents also found heroin, marijuana, cocaine, prescription pills and drug paraphernalia.

“This sentencing represents ATF’s expertise in firearms investigations and is an example of how our law enforcement partnerships solve these unnecessary crimes that negatively impact the lives of the citizens that reside in the neighborhoods,” said Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent Daryl McCrary in a press release.

The case was investigated by ATF, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and the North Port Police Department.

It was prosecuted by assistant U.S. attorneys Michael C. Baggé-Hernández and Kaitlin R. O’Donnell as part of Department of Justice’s “Project Safe Neighborhoods” program. The program’s goal is to decrease violent crime in communities.