The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced in a June 3 press release that 11 individuals have been indicted for trafficking heroin, fentanyl and cocaine in Luzerne County. The indictments were handed down by a federal grand jury on May 28. All but one of the suspects have been taken into custody. A 32-year-old Plymouth man is being sought by police. Most of the indicted individuals have been charged with trafficking a kilogram or more of heroin. They face a maximum penalty of life in prison if they are convicted.
The investigation into the group’s alleged activities was launched in 2019 following a drug delivery that resulted in death. Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies worked together during the investigation because Luzerne County has been rocked by a surge in opioid-related fatalities. Evidence gathered using wiretaps is said to reveal that the group began distributing drugs in Luzerne County and its surrounding areas in 2013.
The investigation was part of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative. PSN was launched to encourage cooperation between law enforcement agencies. Agencies taking part in the operation that led to the indictments include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Pittston and Plymouth Police Departments and the Luzerne and Wyoming County District Attorney’s Offices.
Prosecutors often make generous sentencing offers to individuals rounded up in drug sweeps if they are willing to cooperate with police. However, such offers are unlikely to be made if the suspects involved have already revealed all they know. This is why criminal defense attorneys may encourage defendants facing drug charges to make no admissions or statements until they have been advised by a lawyer. Attorneys familiar with plea negotiations could also seek additional concessions in return for valuable information.