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FROM STAFF REPORTS

A New Castle man has pleaded guilty in federal court to violating federal narcotics laws.

According to acting U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman, Darnell Latham, 52, entered a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine. The activity reportedly took place between March of 2019 and September of 2020. Latham is one of 13 defendants charged in the indictment returned in this case.

In connection with the plea, the court was advised that in 2019, the Drug Enforcement Administration began investigating a cocaine and fentanyl trafficking organization that operated throughout the United States, including in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Puerto Rico. Beginning in December of 2019 and continuing through August of 2020, the DEA received authorization to conduct a Title III wiretap investigation into the organization. Latham was intercepted communicating with his co-defendant and co-conspirator about purchasing, distributing, and cutting cocaine. In addition to the intercepted communications, agents seized cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamine, ecstasy, marijuana, firearms, and bulk U.S. currency from members of the organization, according to the indictment.

Sentencing for Latham is scheduled for Feb. 15. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not more than 30 years in prison, a fine not to exceed $2,000,000, or both. Under the Federal sentencing guidelines, the sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the defendant’s prior criminal history, if any. Latham remains in federal custody pending sentencing.

Assistant United States Attorney Mark V. Gurzo is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The investigation was conducted by: the Drug Enforcement Administration in Pittsburgh; the DEA in Columbus, Ohio, and Harrisburg; Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Pittsburgh and Orlando, Florida; Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations; and the U.S. Postal Service in Columbus, Ohio; the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General; the Lawrence County Drug Task Force Special Investigations Unit and the New Castle Police Department.

This prosecution is a result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. Suspects are to be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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