U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania
(717) 221-4482
October 13, 2015

Eight Men Charged Federally with Participating in Schuylkill County Heroin Conspiracy

SCRANTON, PA—The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, today announced the indictment and arrests of eight men for participating in an interstate heroin trafficking conspiracy based in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.

According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, the indictment by a federal grand jury in Scranton on September 9, 2015 was made public after all defendants were taken into custody. The indictment alleges the eight men conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin between July 2012 and the present.

The indictment alleges that as part of the conspiracy, the defendants and/or their co-conspirators obtained heroin from suppliers in New Jersey, New York, and Hazleton; maintained “stash houses” in Schuylkill County where heroin, firearms and money were stored; possessed firearms to protect their drug distribution locations and activities; used cell phones to communicate with drug associates and customers; distributed the drug to others in Schuylkill County; and used threats and intimidation to collect drug debts, punish disloyalty, and further the goals of the conspiracy.

Those named in the indictment and their charges are:

  • Rhashean Strange a/k/a “Chicago”, age 30: conspiracy to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin; three counts of distribution of heroin; and carrying and possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking;
  • Anthony Navarro-Velez a/k/a “Essay”, age 30: conspiracy to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin; three counts of distribution of heroin;
  • Jesus Santos, age 35: conspiracy to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin; four counts of distribution of heroin;
  • Thomas Nestor, age 38: conspiracy to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin; five counts of distribution of heroin;
  • Nicolai Varga, age 25: conspiracy to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin; two counts of distribution of heroin;
  • Derek Yashinsky a/k/a “Clumzy”, age 25: conspiracy to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin; three counts of distribution of heroin;
  • Carlos Correa, age 30: conspiracy to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin; three counts of distribution of heroin;
  • Paul Jadus, age 50: conspiracy to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin; two counts of distribution of heroin; maintaining a building, room or enclosure for the purpose of storing, distributing or using heroin.

The government is also seeking forfeiture of property allegedly used in the alleged criminal activities or were part of the proceeds, and were seized by law enforcement officers, including four firearms and approximately $13,000 in cash found in two Shenandoah residences. The government is also seeking a $1 million asset forfeiture money judgment based on the alleged criminal activity.

All of the defendants are residents of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.

Rhashean Strange faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and a potential maximum sentence of life in prison if he is convicted of all of the charges. The other seven defendants face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a potential maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of all of the charges.

The charges against the defendants resulted from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Schuylkill County District Attorney’s Office, and local police in Schuylkill County.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa is prosecuting the case.

Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

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 is life imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. 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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