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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Third Circuit Court Of Appeals Affirms 12 ½-Year Prison Sentence For Heroin Courier

SCRANTON- The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals today affirmed the 12 ½-year prison sentence imposed by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Richard P. Conaboy on a California resident who transported 23 kilograms of heroin (approximately 760,000 retail bags of heroin) from California to Pennsylvania.    

According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, the defendant, Francisco Martinez-Rubio, age 36, a citizen of Mexico, claimed on appeal that his 151-month prison sentence was unreasonable.

Martinez-Rubio pleaded guilty on September 8, 2015, to possession with intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin. Judge Conaboy sentenced him on December 15, 2015. Martinez-Rubio admitted that he and three others transported the heroin across the country during late June to early July 2014.

In upholding the sentence, the appeals court ruled that Judge Conaboy was correct in categorizing the defendant as an organizer of criminal activity because he recruited other drug couriers and directed them in their efforts in transporting the heroin across the country. The Court further held that the 12 ½ -year prison sentence was reasonable given the seriousness of the offense and the need to deter others from engaging in similar conduct.

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.

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Pennsylvania State Police. Assistant United States Attorney Francis P. Sempa prosecuted the case and handled the appeal.


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Updated December 1, 2016