Three Members Of Large Lebanon County Drug Trafficking Operation Convicted After Six-Day Trial
HARRISBURG – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Julio Aviles, Sr., age 48, Michael Millan-Miranda, age 30, both from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and Israel Nazario, age 61 of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, all members of a Lebanon County Drug Trafficking Organization, were convicted today of various drug trafficking and firearms offenses. All three defendants were convicted of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute one kilogram and more of heroin. Julio Aviles Sr. was also convicted of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine base, also known as crack cocaine and cocaine powder, possession with intent to distribute 100 grams and more of heroin, 28 grams and more of crack cocaine and a quantity of cocaine hydrochloride, three counts of distribution of heroin, distribution of crack and cocaine powder, possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, being a convicted felon in possession of firearms and maintaining a premise for the purpose of drug trafficking. Michael Millan-Miranda was also convicted of possession with the intent to distribute heroin and the distribution of heroin. Israel Nazario was also convicted of simple possession of heroin. The six-day trial was held in federal court in Harrisburg before United States District Judge John E. Jones, III. Prior to today, nine other individuals associated with this drug operation were charged and are awaiting sentencing for their roles in the drug trafficking operation.
According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, the two-year investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Lebanon County Drug Task Force culminated with the execution of search warrants at 513 Arnold Street and 443 North 6th Street, in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, on May 14, 2015. During the search at 513 Arnold Street, law enforcement agents discovered a “heroin mill” where kilogram amounts of heroin were being processed on a weekly basis. The evidence at trial revealed that Julio Aviles, Sr., a previously convicted drug dealer, owned and operated the heroin mill and employed a network of sellers, packagers, brokers and testers to conduct this illegal enterprise. Packagers were paid approximately $500 a week like factory workers to process and package the heroin for later distribution. The testers operated as quality assurance inspectors to ensure the heroin was of sufficient quality. At the time of the searches, law enforcement agents found over 400 grams of heroin, over 85 grams of cocaine powder, and over 71 grams of crack cocaine. A kilogram of heroin, which weighs approximately 2.2 pounds is equivalent to approximately 40,000 to 50,000 individual doses of heroin, any one of which can be fatal depending on its purity and the nature of its other ingredients. In this case the evidence established that the drug trafficking organization was mixing the heroin with Fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone and Lidocaine. Law enforcement agents estimated that this drug operation was distributing heroin, crack cocaine, and cocaine for a two-year period and during the last few months was distributing kilogram quantities of heroin, crack cocaine and cocaine powder. The value of the drugs distributed has a conservative street value of between $3 million and $5 million.
Located in the processing room were over 52,000 small Ziploc style bags, 37,000 small glassine bags and over 28,000 rubber bands that are used to package controlled substances. Each rubber band was used to package ten individual bags of heroin, called a bundle.
Law enforcement also located three handguns, ten rifles, six shotguns and paraphernalia consistent with a large-scale drug trafficking operation. During the search at 443 North 6th Street, law enforcement officers located additional quantities of heroin, cocaine powder, and crack cocaine along with drug packaging materials.
Thirteen individuals, all together were charged and are pending sentencing as part of this operation:
Julio Aviles, Sr., age 48;
Michael Millan-Miranda, age 30;
Isrrael Nazario, age 61;
Julio Aviles, Jr., age 23;
Leandro Nazario, age 29;
Carlos Nazario, age 70;
Suheidy Soto-Concepcion, age 34;
Eliezer Soto-Concepcion, age 35;
Brenda Soto, age 34;
Geidy Arroyo, age 36;
Kengie Millan-Miranda, age 26;
Brittany Rivera, age 23;
Brent Moyer, age 21.
Julio Aviles, Jr., age 23, Brittany Rivera, age 23, Brent Moyer, age 21, Carlos Nazario, Brenda Soto and Geidy Arroyo all pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 1,000 grams and more of heroin. On the day of trial, Leandro Nazario, Eliezer Soto-Concepcion and Suheidy Soto-Concepcion all pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 1,000 grams and more of heroin, 280 grams and more of cocaine base, or crack cocaine and an unspecified quantity of cocaine hydrochloride or powder cocaine. One charged individual, Kengie Millan-Miranda, remains a fugitive. If you have any information on the whereabouts of Kengie Millan-Miranda, please contact Crime Stoppers at 717-270-9800.
District Attorney David Arnold stated, “I’d like to congratulate the United States Attorney’s Office, First Assistant District Attorney Nichole Eisenhart, DEA, Lebanon County Drug Task Force and all law enforcement for their outstanding work in prosecuting all of these defendants who distributed heroin in Lebanon County. Their efforts to stop the spread of this poison that continues to kill our citizens have been outstanding and I look forward to the continued interagency cooperation to combat drug dealers.”
“No one ever wants a massive, well-structured drug distribution organization in your City. Heroin is killing too many people in Pennsylvania and across this nation. However, I know having a dedicated team from so many law enforcement bodies working together with one common goal, is huge in the effort to combat this crisis. I want to congratulate all those involved in this investigation. This is a good day for law enforcement and a win in the battle against Heroin,” said Chief Todd H. Breiner, Lebanon City Police Department.
“The joint investigation, prosecution, and subsequent conviction of these individuals involved in high-level drug trafficking underscores the importance of cooperative efforts among the law enforcement agencies involved in the case,” said Chief Bruce D. Harris, Cornwall Borough Police Department.
“The dismantling of the Aviles poly-drug trafficking organization was the result of an enormously successful, jointly-conducted criminal investigation and prosecution that once again illuminated the great work being done together by local and federal officials on behalf of the citizens of Central Pennsylvania,” said Jeffrey A. Bielski, Resident Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration.
The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Lebanon County Drug Task Force, Lebanon County Detective Bureau, Lebanon City Police Department, Cornwall Borough Police Department, and assisted by the Lebanon County Probation Department. Special Assistant United States Attorney Nichole Eisenhart who also serves as the First Assistant District Attorney in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania and Assistant United States Attorney Daryl F. Bloom, Chief of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force prosecuted the case.
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.
Julio Aviles, Sr. is subject to an enhanced penalty due to his prior drug trafficking conviction and is subject to a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. The maximum penalty under federal law for the remaining defendants is life imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment and a fine. The conspiracy count also requires a mandatory term of imprisonment of ten years and the possession with intent to distribute count carries a mandatory term of imprisonment of five years. 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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