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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Wilkes-Barre Man Sentenced To 98 Months’ Imprisonment For Drug Trafficking And Firearms Offenses

SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that on December 17, 2019, United States District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo sentenced Nigel Deshawn Velardo, age 23, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, to 98 months’ imprisonment and a four-year term of supervised release, for being in possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking.

According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, on March 8, 2019, Velardo was found in possession of fentanyl and five semi-automatic handgun-style firearms, which were seized pursuant to a search warrant in Wilkes-Barre.      

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Wilkes-Barre Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffery St John prosecuted 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 was also 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.

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.  The United States Attorney’s Office has prosecuted this case with support from the following Project Guardian partners: [list partners here].  For more information about Project Guardian, please see https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/attorney-general-william-p-barr-announces-launch-project-guardian-nationwide-strategic-plan.

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Topic(s): 
Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated December 18, 2019