The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that a Reading man pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani to participating in a drug conspiracy that was responsible for distributing large quantities of heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine and other drugs during a four-year time period in Monroe, Carbon, Montgomery and Berks Counties in Pennsylvania.
According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, the defendant, Juan Mendez-Lazaro, age 34, admitted to participating in the conspiracy from 2011 through 2013. The conspiracy was responsible for distributing more than one kilogram of heroin, more than five kilograms of cocaine, and various quantities of crack cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, and Oxycontin (Oxycodone). Mendez-Lazaro is the fifth defendant in the case to plead guilty in federal court.
The charge against Mendez-Lazaro resulted from an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Pennsylvania State Police, Berks County Detectives and Montgomery County Detectives.
Mendez-Lazaro faces a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence and a potential maximum sentence of life in prison. Judge Mariani ordered a pre-sentence report to be completed. Sentencing is scheduled to take place in September 2014.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa.
A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.