HAZLETON, Penn. – The Hazleton City Police Department received a check in the amount of $295,787.11 today from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Philadelphia office.
Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations Philadelphia, Marlon V. Miller, and United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, David J. Freed, presented the check to the Chief of Police for the Hazleton City Police Department, Jerry Speziale.
The funds resulted from an investigation by HSI Philadelphia’s Cyber Crime Investigations Task Force (C2iTF), the Hazleton City Police Department, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Pennsylvania State Police.
Joshua Sweet, 26, of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, was charged in a criminal complaint by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in conjunction with HSI Philadelphia special agents with possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.
An HSI New York Darknet investigation resulted in the lead that identified Sweet, a prolific Darknet vendor who manufactured and distributed substantial quantities of narcotics including cocaine, alprazolam, fentanyl, and marijuana, on the Darknet. He laundered his illicit proceeds on the Darknet in an attempt to conceal his illegal activities from law enforcement. Over the course of the yearlong probe, HSI and the Hazelton City Police Department seized evidence including significant quantities of narcotics, equipment to make counterfeit pills, cash, and bitcoin as drug trafficking proceeds.
“Homeland Security Investigations is proud to return a significant portion of the money seized in this case to the police department, where it will be put to good use improving the public safety for all citizens in this area.” said Marlon V. Miller, special agent in charge of HSI Philadelphia. “We recognize the key role that our local law enforcement partners play in addressing the significant threat that narcotics pose on our communities. Sadly, the perils of narcotics trafficking do not just affect our big cities, they also having a significant impact on our smaller communities.”
“While we can and will continue to focus on public safety, effective investigations allow us to also disrupt the business of crime by seizing ill-gotten gains,” said U.S. Attorney David J. Freed. “This presents the opportunity to share these assets with local partners and communities that have been negatively impacted by criminal activity. Because of the great work of HSI and Hazleton Police Department, the law-abiding citizens of Hazleton will benefit for years to come.”
“The collaboration between us has unleashed the power of us all to accomplish what none can do alone,” said Jerry Speziale, Chief of Police for the Hazleton City Police Department. “ These Funds will support future law enforcement endeavors and equipment so the taxpayer don’t shoulder the burden.”