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Press Release

Homeland Security Investigations Shares Nearly $300,000 With Hazleton City Police Department For Assistance In Narcotics Investigation

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

The Hazleton City Police Department received a check in the amount of $295,787.11 today from Homeland Security Investigations Philadelphia office.

HARRISBURG – U.S. Attorney David J. Freed of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania joined Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Philadelphia, Marlon V. Miller, in presenting a check in the amount of $295,787.11 today to the Chief of Police for the Hazleton City Police Department, Jerry Speziale.

A HSI New York Darknet investigation identified Joshua Sweet, age 26, of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, as a prolific Darknet vendor who manufactured and distributed substantial quantities of narcotics including cocaine, alprazolam, fentanyl, and marijuana, on the Darknet. He laundered his illicit proceeds on the Darknet in an attempt to conceal his illegal activities from law enforcement. Over the course of the yearlong probe, HSI and the Hazelton City Police Department seized evidence including significant quantities of narcotics, equipment to make counterfeit pills, cash, and bitcoin as drug trafficking proceeds.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in conjunction with HSI Philadelphia special agents, charged Sweet in a criminal complaint on May 16, 2018, with possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. 

“Homeland Security Investigations is proud to return a significant portion of the money seized in this case to the police department, where it will be put to good use improving the public safety for all citizens in this area," said Marlon V. Miller, special agent in charge of HSI Philadelphia. "We recognize the key role that our local law enforcement partners play in addressing the significant threat that narcotics pose on our communities. Sadly, the perils of narcotics trafficking do not just affect our big cities, they also having a significant impact on our smaller communities."

“While we can and will continue to focus on public safety, effective investigations allow us to also disrupt the business of crime by seizing ill-gotten gains,” said U.S. Attorney David J. Freed. “This presents the opportunity to share these assets with local partners and communities that have been negatively impacted by criminal activity. Because of the great work of HSI and Hazleton Police Department, the law-abiding citizens of Hazleton will benefit for years to come.” 

“The collaboration between us has unleashed the power of us all to accomplish what none can do alone,” said Jerry Speziale, Chief of Police for the Hazleton City Police Department.  “These funds will support future law enforcement endeavors and equipment so the taxpayer don’t shoulder the burden.”

The funds resulted from an investigation by HSI Philadelphia’s Cyber Crime Investigations Task Force (C2iTF), the Hazleton City Police Department, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Pennsylvania State Police. Assistant United States Attorney Sean Camoni is prosecuting the case.

HSI’s asset forfeiture program exemplifies HSI’s efforts in the area of identification, seizure and forfeiture of assets that represent the proceeds of, and/or were used to facilitate federal violations under the investigative jurisdiction of HSI. The program adheres to the principal belief that the utilization of consistent and strategic application of asset forfeiture laws is necessary and vital in order to disrupt and dismantle the financial infrastructure of criminal enterprises and other national security threats. Asset forfeiture is an essential element of comprehensive and effective law enforcement as it deprives trans-national criminal organizations of their illicitly obtained assets. Accordingly, HSI brings to bear considerable authority, expertise and resources in the area of asset forfeiture. The forfeiture of assets can be and is utilized as a sanction in criminal, civil and administrative investigative activities.

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Updated April 6, 2022

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