SCRANTON – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Kelvin Vazquez-Pagan, age 25, of Passaic, New Jersey, pleaded guilty on March 16, 2023, before U.S. District Court Judge Malachy E. Mannion, to the charge of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
According to United States Attorney Gerard M. Karam, Vazquez-Pagan admitted to possessing four kilograms of cocaine for further distribution. The charge stems from an incident on March 23, 2022, in which members of the Pennsylvania State Police made a traffic stop of a vehicle in Lackawanna County in which Vazquez-Pagan and another individual, Carlos Perez-Rivera, age 37, of West New York, New Jersey, were traveling. A subsequent search of the vehicle resulted in the seizure of approximately four kilograms of cocaine found hidden inside the vehicle.
Co-conspirator Perez-Rivera previously entered a guilty plea before Judge Mannion on March 3, 2023 and is awaiting sentencing.
The investigation was conducted by the Pennsylvania State Police and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant United States Attorneys Robert J. O’Hara and Brian J. Gallagher are prosecuting the case.
This case is also 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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.
The charge carries a maximum penalty under federal law of up to twenty years in prison, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. 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.
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