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Press Release

Luzerne County Men Charged With Fentanyl Trafficking That Resulted In Death

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 charges were unsealed yesterday for five Luzerne County men, for various fentanyl, cocaine, and tramadol trafficking offenses, including fentanyl dealing that resulted in death.  The defendants are:

  1. Edwin Tejeda, age 30, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and the Dominican Republic;
  2. Jose Raymer Tejeda, age 36, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania;
  3. Emilio Tejeda, age 32, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania;
  4. James Garris, Jr., age 51, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; and
  5. James Tindol, Jr., age 37, of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania.

Brothers Edwin, Jose Raymer, and Emilio Tejeda were indicted by a federal grand jury on June 30, 2020, with conspiring to traffic cocaine and 400 grams or more of fentanyl, between January 2016 and February 2020.  According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, the indictment alleges that Edwin Tejeda and Jose Raymer Tejeda are charged with causing the death of A.V. as a result of that conspiracy.  The three also are charged varyingly with 19 counts of trafficking fentanyl and tramadol during the course of the conspiracy, and with maintaining a drug premises.  The indictment also seeks forfeiture of two Wilkes-Barre properties, two firearms and ammunition, and over $25,000 seized by law enforcement.  The defendants all await trial.  The indictment remained under seal until Edwin Tejeda was apprehended while traveling to the United States from the Dominican Republic.

James Garris, Jr., was charged in an information on June 3, 2020, with delivering fentanyl that resulted in death.  Garris pleaded guilty to that charge on July 7, 2020, and awaits sentencing.  James Tindol, Jr. also was charged in an information on March 4, 2020, with delivering fentanyl that resulted in death.

In a related case, on June 30, 2020, Kearon Brinson, age 40, of West Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, and Lamont Hubbard, age 49, of Plymouth, Pennsylvania, were indicted by a federal grand jury on drug trafficking and ammunition charges.  According to United States Attorney Freed, the indictment alleges that Brinson and Hubbard conspired to traffic in excess of 40 grams of fentanyl between January 2019 and February 2020.  Brinson was charged with possessing with the intent to distribute crack cocaine on February 24, 2020.  Brinson and Hubbard both were charged with possessing with the intent to distribute fentanyl on February 24, 2020.  Hubbard also was charged with possessing ammunition as a convicted felon.  The indictment also seeks forfeiture of assorted ammunition and over $3,500 seized by law enforcement during the investigation.  Both defendants await trial.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Luzerne Country Drug Task Force, and the Kingston Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip J. Caraballo is prosecuting the case.

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 make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws.  Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.

This case further 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.

Indictments are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

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 the drug delivery resulting in death charges are a minimum 20 years and maximum life term of imprisonment.  Other drug charges against the defendants carry five and ten-year mandatory minimums. 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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Updated October 6, 2020

Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods