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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 18, 2021

New Jersey Man Admits Trafficking Kilos of Cocaine to Washington County

PITTSBURGH, PA -- A resident New Jersey pleaded guilty in federal court to a violation of the federal narcotics laws, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today.

James Vance, 36, of Jersey City, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine before United States District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan. Mr. Vance was indicted and charged with drug trafficking following a months-long wiretap investigation targeting narcotics trafficking activity in Washington County, Pennsylvania.

In connection with the guilty plea, the Court was advised that Mr. Vance’s criminal conduct was detected through a wiretap investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Pennsylvania State Police beginning in April 2020. Through judicially authorized wiretaps utilized by members of a drug trafficking organization operating in Washington County, PA, along with extensive physical surveillance in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, agents gathered evidence showing that Mr. Vance met with and distributed kilogram quantities of cocaine, and quantities of heroin-fentanyl mixtures, to alleged codefendants, which were then transported back to Washington County, PA and redistributed.

Judge Ranjan scheduled sentencing for September 14, 2021 at 10 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of not less than ten years and up to life in prison, a fine of up to $10,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorneys Jerome A. Moschetta and Mark V. Gurzo are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Pennsylvania State Police Drug Law Enforcement Division conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Mr. Vance. This prosecution is a result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force ("OCDETF") investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles high-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten communities throughout the United States. OCDETF uses a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated May 18, 2021