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Press Release

Luzerne County Man Sentenced To 27 Months In Prison For Role In Heroin Trafficking Conspiracy

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 today that Cleveland Linder, age 33, of Plymouth, was sentenced on March 23, 2018, by Senior U.S. District Court Judge James M. Munley to serve 27 months in prison for his role in a heroin trafficking conspiracy that operated in Luzerne County during 2014.

According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Linder previously pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to distribute heroin.  Linder admitted to being involved in the distribution of more than 60 grams and less than 80 grams of heroin, which is equivalent to between 2,500 and 3,300 retail bags of heroin.

Judge Munley also ordered Linder to serve three years on supervised release following his prison sentence.

The investigation resulted in the arrest of ten people connected to the drug ring, all of whom pleaded guilty. Desmond Mercer, the leader of the conspiracy, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Two key associates, Shaquan Murphy and Shaliek Stroman, were each sentenced to 12 ½ years in prison. Another member of the drug ring, Antoine Jamison, received a five-year prison sentence. Omar Bell, another member of the drug ring, was recently sentenced to 52 months in prison.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Pennsylvania State Police, and Kingston Police.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made turning the tide of rising violent crime in America a top priority.   In October 2017, as part of a series of actions to address this crime trend, Attorney General Sessions announced the reinvigoration of PSN and directed all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to develop a district crime reduction strategy that incorporates the lessons learned since PSN launched in 2001.

This case was also 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.

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Updated March 27, 2018

Project Safe Neighborhoods