Monroe County Man Sentenced To 17 ½ Years In Prison For Heroin And Sex Trafficking
SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Jose Velazquez, age 27, was sentenced to 17 ½ years in prison yesterday by U.S. District Court Judge Malachy E. Mannion, for participating in a heroin trafficking conspiracy that stretched from Stroudsburg to New York to the state of Maine, and forcing or coercing women into engage in prostitution in northeastern Pennsylvania.
According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, Velazquez, who used the street name “Sev,” previously pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin (which is approximately equivalent to 4000 retail bags of heroin) and to sex trafficking an adult female between 2012 and 2014, using force and coercion.
Velazquez was originally indicted along with six other people by a federal grand jury in September 2015. In October 2016, Velazquez was charged in a superseding indictment with drug trafficking and sex trafficking crimes.
Velazquez’s conviction and sentence resulted from an investigation into the activities of a street gang known as the Black P-Stones. The superseding indictment alleged that male gang members were “beaten-in” to the gang and female members were “sexed-in” to the gang. The superseding indictment further alleged that members of the Black P-Stones obtained heroin in New York and distributed the heroin in Stroudsburg and locations in the state of Maine. According to the superseding indictment, couriers were used to transport heroin from New York to Maine.
The superseding indictment further alleged that females were “sexed-in” to the gang by being forced to engage in sex with male gang members; recruited and coerced to engage in prostitution; advertised as adult escorts on a website; provided with heroin and other drugs; and placed in various are hotels/motels to work as prostitutes. Male gang members used threats, force, drugs, and intimidation to coerce females to engage in prostitution.
Judge Mannion also ordered the defendant to serve five years of supervised release following his prison sentence. Velazquez must also comply with sex offender registration and notification requirements.
The case was investigated by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, members of the Pennsylvania State Police, Maine State Police, the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, and local police in Monroe County. Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa prosecuted 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.
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