SCRANTON—The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Cesar Moscoso-Sagastume, age 39, a citizen of Guatemala, pleaded guilty on October 8, 2019, before Senior U.S. District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo, to participating in a conspiracy that transported more than a kilogram of heroin that was seized by investigators on Interstate 80 near Hazleton in February 2018.
According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Moscoso-Sagastume admitted to conspiring with others to distribute and possess with intent to distribute between three and ten kilograms of heroin (which is equivalent to between 120,000 and 400,000 retail bags of heroin) between November 2017 and February 2018. Investigators seized approximately five kilograms of heroin during the investigation.
Judge Caputo ordered a presentence investigation to be completed. Sentencing is scheduled for April 30, 2020.
The charge against Moscoso-Sagastume resulted from an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Pennsylvania State Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa is prosecuting 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 was also 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 maximum penalty under federal law is life imprisonment. The charge also carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison. 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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