For Immediate Release
Freeland Man Sentenced to 270 Months’ Imprisonment for Drug Trafficking, Firearms, and Explosives Offenses
SCRANTON – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that on February 11, 2020, Roberto Torner, age 47, of Freeland, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 270 months’ imprisonment and five years of supervised release, by United States District Court Judge Malachy E. Mannion, for drug trafficking, firearms, and explosives offenses.
According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Torner was convicted following a 13-day jury trial of conspiring to distribute 15 grams of heroin from June 2, 2015 and June 8, 2015, and for distributing five grams of heroin on June 8, 2015. Torner also was convicted of possessing and conspiring to possess firearms as a multi-convicted felon. From May 12, 2012 to August 28, 2017, Torner obtained and had access to numerous firearms, including several that were maintained by his co-defendant, Liza Robles.
After Torner was charged initially with heroin trafficking and firearms offenses, he was released on bail in advance of trial. While on pretrial release, Torner planted stolen, U.S. military C4 plastic explosives at the residence of his co-defendant, David Alzugaray-Lugones. Judge Mannion also found that Torner obstructed justice by lying on the stand at trial about his criminal activities, and by destroying evidence—his own shirt—in the middle of trial by flushing it down a holding cell toilet bowl.
Torner’s codefendants, Liza Robles and David Alzugaray-Lugones, also were convicted at trial of heroin trafficking offenses, and Robles was convicted of firearms offenses. Alzugaray- Lugones previously was sentenced to 27 months of imprisonment. Robles previously was sentenced to 36 months of imprisonment.
Judge Mannion ordered Torner to pay a $20,000 fine. Judge Mannion also ordered the forfeiture of the ammunition and firearms seized during the investigation, which included a:
1. Magnum Research 1911U .45acp, Serial Number U100343;
2. Hi-Point JHP .45acp, Serial Number 4266999;
3. Stag Arms STAG-15, .223 cal., Serial Number 185412, which is capable of accepting a high capacity magazine;
4. Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun, Serial Number U080316;
5. Norinco MAC90, 7.62x39, Serial Number 934134, which is capable of accepting a high capacity magazine; and a
6. Tikka T3, 30.06, Serial Number C77995.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Weatherly Police Department, the Luzerne County Drug Task Force, the Pennsylvania State Police, and other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Assistant United States Attorneys Phillip Caraballo and Todd Hinkley 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 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 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.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.
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