DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
David J. Freed
, United States Attorney
Contact: Dawn Mayko

Luzerne County Man Guilty of Participating in Heroin Trafficking Conspiracy

SCRANTON—The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, announced today that Charles Davis, III, age 46, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty on February 16, 2018, before Senior U.S. District Court Judge James M. Munley, to conspiring with others to distribute heroin in Luzerne County during February through November 2014.

According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Davis admitted to transporting Desmond Mercer, the leader of the conspiracy, to more than 600 heroin transactions and to distributing heroin for Mercer to other customers in Luzerne County. Davis admitted to involvement in the distribution of between 100 and 400 grams of heroin, which is approximately equivalent to between 4,000 and 16,000 retail bags of heroin.

Desmond Mercer, the leader of the drug conspiracy, previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Shaliek Stroman and Shaquan Murphy, two key associates of Mercer, were each sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for their roles in the conspiracy. Another member of the drug ring, Antuan Jamison, was sentenced to five years in prison.

Davis was indicted by a federal grand jury in February 2016, as a result of an investigation by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office, and Kingston Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa is prosecuting the case.

Judge Munley ordered a pre-sentence investigation to be completed, and scheduled Davis’ sentencing for May 21, 2018.

This case 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.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made turning the tide of rising violent crime in America a top priority. In October 2017, as part of a series of actions to address this crime trend, Attorney General Sessions announced the reinvigoration of PSN and directed all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to develop a district crime reduction strategy that incorporates the lessons learned since PSN launched in 2001.

A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

The maximum penalty under federal law for this offense is 40 years in prison, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. There is also a mandatory minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.

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Philadelphia Field Division