SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that United States District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani sentenced James Garris, Jr., age 52, to 14 years’ imprisonment, and Emilio Tejeda, age 33, to 57 months’ imprisonment, for fentanyl trafficking offenses. Both men were residents of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, prior to being incarcerated on the instant offenses.
According to United States Attorney John C. Gurganus, James Garris, Jr. previously pleaded guilty to distributing fentanyl that resulted in death. On September 19, 2019, Garris distributed fentanyl to James Tindol, Jr., who subsequently distributed the fentanyl to an individual identified as A.V. Shortly after ingesting the fentanyl, A.V. overdosed and died. Garris served as a drug dealer in a drug trafficking organization run by brothers Edwin Tejeda and Jose Raymer Tejeda.
Emilio Tejeda, a third brother, served as a courier in the drug trafficking organization. Emilio Tejeda previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute between 400 grams and 1.2 kilograms of fentanyl, which is the equivalent of approximately 200,000 to 600,000 potentially lethal individual doses of fentanyl. Emilio Tejeda also forfeited a firearm and ammunition that were seized during the investigation.
In addition to James Garris, Jr. and Emilio Tejeda, five other Luzerne County men have been charged and convicted in the broader investigation, for various fentanyl, cocaine, and tramadol trafficking offenses, including fentanyl trafficking that resulted in death:
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Luzerne Country Drug Task Force, and the Kingston Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip J. Caraballo is prosecuting the case.
This case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
This case also 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.
# # #