SCRANTON – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Luis Gonzalez, age 27, of El Paso, Texas, pleaded guilty on November 2, 2023, before U.S. District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani, to the charge of possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.
According to United States Attorney Gerard M. Karam, Gonzalez admitted to possessing between 15 kilograms and 50 kilograms of cocaine for further distribution in the Lackawanna County area in September 2022. The charges stem from an incident on September 29, 2022, in which members of the Pennsylvania State Police made a traffic stop of a vehicle in Lackawanna County. Gonzalez and codefendant, Jose Torres, age 27, of El Paso, Texas were the occupants of the vehicle. A subsequent search of the vehicle resulted in the seizure of sixteen individually wrapped kilograms of cocaine, having a street-value of approximately $500,000.
The charges against Jose Torres remain outstanding.
The investigation was conducted by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Pennsylvania State Police and the Scranton Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Robert J. O’Hara 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 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.
Under federal law, the offense carries a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison. The maximum penalty under federal law is up to life in prison, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. 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.
All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.
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