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Press Release

Five Facing Federal Cocaine Trafficking Conspiracy Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH – Five men have been arrested and charged in federal court with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, Acting United States Attorney Soo C. Song announced today.

The criminal complaint charges Don Juan Mendoza, age 38, of Lawrenceville, Georgia; Jamie Lightfoot, Jr., age 25, of, Verona, Pennsylvania; Pedro Alejandro Blanco, age 39, of Jacksonville, Florida; Brian Powell, age 39, of Jacksonville, Florida; and Troy Rowe, age 28, of Columbia, South Carolina, with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of five kilograms or more of cocaine.

Acting U.S. Attorney Song said, “This seizure of 52 kilograms of cocaine is among the largest in Western Pennsylvania history and is a testament to proactive investigative work by federal, state and local partners. While fentanyl and heroin remain the most lethal threats, we are witnessing an alarming rebound in cocaine production and availability.”

According to the criminal complaint, the defendants were part of a large-scale drug trafficking scheme. Brian Powell, Troy Rowe and Pedro Blanco were involved in the transport of an RV, registered to Mendoza’s mother, containing drugs from the Los Angeles area to the Penn Hills residence of Jamie Lightfoot, Jr. Don Juan Mendoza also arrived at the Lightfoot residence about the same time as the RV containing the drugs.

According to the complaint, a search of the RV revealed approximately 52 kilograms of cocaine, approximately 85 pounds of marijuana, and two firearms. The cocaine and marijuana were secreted in a compartment underneath the bunk beds in the RV. The two firearms were found in the same compartment as some of the cocaine and marijuana. The complaint also alleges that hundreds of thousands of dollars were recovered during a search of Lightfoot, Jr.’s residence.

The defendants appeared today in federal court in Pittsburgh before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan. The government is seeking detention of the defendants pending trial.

The law provides for a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and up to life, a fine of $10 million, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Timothy M. Lanni is prosecuting this case. The Federal
Bureau of Investigation and the Pennsylvania State Police, with assistance from the South Strabane
Police Department, the Elizabeth Borough Police Department, the Penn Hills Police Department
and the Perryopolis Police Department, conducted the investigation that led to the complaint
against these individuals.

A criminal complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant may not be
prosecuted unless, within 30 days, a grand jury has found probable cause to believe that he is guilty
of an offense.

Updated November 6, 2017