By Kaylee Lindenmuth
HAZLETON, Luzerne County - The state attorney general's office announced today the takedown of a fentanyl distribution ring in Luzerne County, which they say has sold at least $1 Million worth of the drug this year alone.
Search warrants were executed on three Hazleton homes Thursday, where 145 bricks of fentanyl and a suspected AR15 was found. As a result, six people are facing charges.
“The heroin and opioid epidemic is ravaging Pennsylvania communities—including right here in Hazleton,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “Luzerne County lost 143 individuals to drug overdose in 2018, and fentanyl is now responsible for approximately 2/3 of overdose deaths. An important part of my job as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of Pennsylvania is to target high level drug dealers who are pushing these poisons into our communities. I’m grateful for the strong collaboration between state and local law enforcement to break up this fentanyl distribution ring and bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Six men -- Joel Tejada Guerra, 28, of Hazleton; Manuel Sanchez Medina, of Hazleton; Cristian Tejada Guerra, 18, of Hazleton; Richardson Rosario, 20, of Hazleton; Angel Estrada, 32, of Kingston; Hassan Harrell, 27, of Freeland -- were arrested following a wiretap investigation into the organization, which they believe has been under the leadership of Joel Tejada Guerra since 2016.
According to the attorney general's office, Joel Tejada Guerra used sub-dealers to distribute fentanyl, and the group is estimated to have sold anywhere between two and 75 bricks in a single instance, up to 2,000 in 2019 alone, which the state equates to 100,000 doses or $1 Million in street value.
Joel Tejada Guerra, Cristian Tejada Guerra, and Manuel Sanchez Medina were all arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Joseph Zola and were held on $250,000 bail, and will have a preliminary hearing on May 15th. The three are facing charges related to corrupt organizations, conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, and other offenses.
Assisting the attorney general's office in the investigation were the Hazleton City Police Department, West Hazleton Police Department, Luzerne County Drug Task Force, Luzerne County District Attorney's Office, Scranton Police Bomb Squad, and a pair of K-9s from Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton respectively.
Those arrested yesterday are: Joel Tejada Guerra, 28, Hazleton; Manuel Sanchez Medina, Hazleton; Cristian Tejada Guerra, 18, Hazleton; Richardson Rosario, 20, Hazleton; Angel Estrada, 32, Kingston; Hassan Harrell, 27, Freeland. Joel Tejada Guerra, Cristian Tejada Guerra, and Manuel Sanchez-Medina were arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Joseph Zola in Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas and held on $250,000 bail. The three defendants are scheduled for a preliminary hearing on May 15th at 10:30am.
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