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Eight men charged federally with participating in Schuylkill County heroin conspiracy

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Eight men were indicted yesterday for participating in an interstate heroin trafficking conspiracy based in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced.

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.

Prosecutors allege that as part of the conspiracy, the defendants and 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.

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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.

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