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Press Release

Luzerne County Man Sentenced To Prison For Conspiracy And Attempted Possession With Intent To Distribute Methamphetamine

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 Jose L. Vargas, age 39, of Hazleton, Pennsylvania was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison by U.S. District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani, for conspiracy and attempted possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. After his release, Vargas will serve an additional five years on supervised release.

 According to United States Attorney Gerard M. Karam, Vargas was the target of a reverse sting operation by the DEA in which he attempted to retrieve five pounds of crystal methamphetamine. Vargas had left the methamphetamine in the possession of an acquittance, who began to cooperate with law enforcement. The DEA took possession of the nearly two and one-half kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and arranged through the confidential informant to have Vargas retrieve the drugs from a car parked in Hazleton. Unfortunately, the undercover police vehicle locking mechanism locked the vehicle prior to Vargas’s attempt to retrieve the drugs. Vargas then telephoned another individual and directed him to retrieve the drugs and bring them to Vargas. That individual was arrested when he retrieved the drug from the then, unlocked vehicle and cooperated with police against Vargas.

Vargas was convicted of conspiracy and attempted possession of the methamphetamine after a three-day trial in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Vargas is a citizen of the Dominican Republic and subject to deportation upon his release from federal prison.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results. 

The case was investigated by the DEA and the Hazleton, Pennsylvania Police Department and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Todd K. Hinkley and James Buchanan prosecuted the case.

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Updated June 6, 2024

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking