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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Lancaster Heroin Trafficker Sentenced to 20 Years’ Imprisonment

Philadelphia – U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Jose Enrique Gonzalez, 48, of Lancaster, PA, was sentenced today by the Honorable Joseph F. Leeson to 20 years in federal prison and 8 years of supervised release for possession with intent to deliver heroin, carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime, possession of an illegal firearm, and possession of a firearm after a felony conviction.

On June 14, 2016, police officers recovered more than 130 individually wrapped glassine baggies of heroin, an AK-47 assault rifle, multiple high-capacity magazines of ammunition, and a homemade silencer from Gonzalez’s vehicle in Lancaster. Law enforcement later recovered additional quantities of heroin and more than $2,300 in cash from Gonzalez’s home. At that time, Gonzalez was out on bail in another drug-related case that was then pending in the Court of Common Pleas for Lancaster County. He had been the subject of a longstanding investigation by the Lancaster County Drug Task Force. 

Gonzalez was charged by a grand jury with federal drug and gun offenses on August 3, 2017. He pled guilty to all charges on May 10, 2018. In advocating for the 20-year sentence handed down today, the government argued that the sentence was appropriate in light of the seriousness of Gonzalez’s crimes and the grave harm that his heroin-trafficking had inflicted upon the community.

“By its very nature, drug-trafficking is extremely dangerous and often violent,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “The defendant’s illegal possession of an assault rifle, along with magazines of ammunition and a silencer, drives home this reality. With the Court’s sentence, the defendant will not be able to harm innocent civilians for the next two decades.” 

“This sentence sends a stiff message to repeat-offender drug dealers who carry firearms: We will pursue all options when considering the protection of the public and that includes prosecution at the federal level,” said Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman. “This collaboration of law-enforcement agencies has placed a dangerous individual in prison for decades.”

“Jose Gonzalez has demonstrated that he is a danger to the community who continued to prey on our local residents,” said Lancaster City Police Chief Jarrad Berkihiser. “Gonzalez was clearly making a considerable amount of money selling poison in our community and was prepared to defend his operation by illegally possessing an AK-47 rifle with an illegal silencer.  Gonzalez thumbed his nose at the criminal justice system, the laws of the Commonwealth and the laws of the United States by being a convicted felon and continuing to commit criminal offenses while on bail for other drug related charges.  This conviction shows the dedication and partnership between local, state, and federal law enforcement.  The Lancaster City Police, the Lancaster County Drug Task Force and our Federal partners will not be deterred in continuing our proactive approach to the ongoing opioid epidemic and removing violent criminals from our communities.  I commend the officers, investigators, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Lancaster County District Attorney for their work in this case.”

The case was investigated by the Lancaster County Drug Task Force, the Lancaster Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sean P. McDonnell.

Updated August 22, 2018