For Immediate Release
Three New York Men Sentenced for Firearms and Heroin Trafficking Offenses
SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that United States District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo sentenced three men from New York for various heroin trafficking and firearms offenses. On September 19, 2019, Judge Caputo sentenced Jose Mendoza, age 41, to a time served sentence of approximately 13 months, and three years of supervised, for conspiring to distribute heroin. On September 26, 2019, Judge Caputo sentenced Edwin Aguilar, age 27, to two years of probation, for conspiring to distribute heroin. That same day, Luis Mercado, age 48, was sentenced to 110 months’ imprisonment and four years of supervised release, for conspiring to distribute in excess of 100 grams of heroin, and for aiding and abetting the transportation of stolen firearms.
According to United States David J. Freed, Mercado brokered the sale of 47 firearms stolen from Fulmer’s Sporting Goods, a federally licensed firearms dealer in Wysox, Pennsylvania. Mercado and his co-conspirators, Jared Miller and Aaron Vanderpool, received heroin and cash in exchange for the stolen firearms. Mercado admitted to trafficking between 100 grams and 400 grams of heroin, which is the equivalent of approximately 4,000 to 16,000 potentially fatal doses of heroin between New York and Pennsylvania in June 2012 through June 2015. As part of his sentence, Mercado was ordered to pay $27,383.75 in restitution.
Mendoza and Aguilar worked as drug couriers who trafficked between 20 grams and 40 grams of heroin, which is the equivalent to approximately 800 to 1,600 potentially fatal doses of heroin. Mendoza and Aguilar were apprehended transporting heroin from New York to Pennsylvania on August 31, 2015.
Miller previously was sentenced to 84 months’ imprisonment, and Vanderpool was sentenced to 77 months’ imprisonment for their roles in the offenses. One other individual associated with the investigation, Jose Espinosa, pleaded guilty to heroin trafficking and stolen firearms offenses, and awaits sentencing.
The matter was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Pennsylvania State Police. Assistant United States Attorney Phillip J. Caraballo prosecuted the cases.
These cases are 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.
The cases were 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.
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