Skip to main content
Press Release

Dominican National Sentenced For Twenty-Year Old Felony Drug Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Pennsylvania

SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that on September 24, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani sentenced Jose Rafael Hidalgo, age 43, a Dominican national, to 70 months’ imprisonment for drug trafficking.

According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Hidalgo admitted that between 1994 and 1999, he conspired with Luzerne County resident David Drozdowski and others to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine.  Hidalgo supplied Drozdowski with cocaine, which he admitted was between 5 and 15 kilograms, which Drozdowski and others then distributed in and around Luzerne County. 

Hidalgo was arrested on August 25, 1999, and, after entering an agreement with the United States to plead guilty, he was granted conditional release.  At some point between October 12, 1999, and February 2000, while residing in New Jersey under supervised pre-trial release, Hidalgo removed an electronic monitoring device and absconded. 

On February 22, 2000, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued an arrest warrant for Hidalgo.  The United States Marshals Service took charge of the investigation to locate and apprehend Hidalgo, and, in 2016, confirmed that Hidalgo was living in the Dominican Republic.  The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania initiated extradition procedures in conjunction with the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs and the U.S. State Department, leading to Hidalgo’s arrest by Dominican law enforcement authorities on January 17, 2019.  Extradition was granted on March 25, 2019, and the U.S. Marshals returned Hidalgo to the United States where he appeared before a federal Magistrate Judge for an initial appearance on May 20, 2019.

The original drug trafficking case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Pennsylvania State Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean A. Camoni prosecuted the case.

This prosecution is part of an extensive investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).  OCDETF is a joint federal, state, and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking and is the nation’s primary tool for disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations, targeting national and regional level drug trafficking organizations and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.


# # #

Updated September 28, 2020

Drug Trafficking