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Justice News

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

Monday, November 14, 2016

Luzerne County Man Pleads Guilty To Large Heroin Trafficking Conspiracy

SCRANTON—The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Omar Bell, age 33, of Wilkes-Barre, pleaded guilty on November 10, 2016, before Senior U.S. District Court Judge James M. Munley in Scranton to conspiring with others to distribute large amounts of heroin during February through November 2014.

According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, Bell admitted to regularly obtaining multiple bricks of heroin from Desmond Mercer and his associates and distributing that heroin to customers in Luzerne County. Bell admitted to distributing between 100 and 400 grams of heroin, which is equivalent to between 4,000 and 16,000 retail bags of heroin.

Mercer, the leader of the drug operation, previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Shaliek Stroman and Shaquan Murphy, two key associates of Mercer, were each sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for their roles in the conspiracy. Another member of the conspiracy, Antuan Jamison, was sentenced to five years in prison.

Judge Munley scheduled Bell’s sentencing for February 9, 2017. Bell faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a potential maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office, and Kingston Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa is prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as part of a district wide initiative to combat the nationwide epidemic regarding the use and distribution of heroin.  Led by the United States Attorney’s Office, the Heroin Initiative targets heroin traffickers operating in the Middle District of Pennsylvania and is part of a coordinated effort among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who commit heroin related offenses.

A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

The maximum penalty under federal law for this offense is 40 years in prison, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. 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.


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Drug Trafficking
Updated November 14, 2016