Luzerne County Individuals Convicted Of Heroin Trafficking, Firearms, And C-4 Plastic Explosives Offenses
SCRANTON – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Roberto Torner, age 45, Liza Robles, age 34, both of Freeland, Pennsylvania, and David Alzugaray-Lugones, age 49, of Weatherly, Pennsylvania, were convicted on October 31, 2018, of heroin trafficking, firearms, and stolen military C-4 explosives offenses. The 12-day trial was held before United States District Court Judge Malachy E. Mannion in Scranton.
According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, the jury returned the guilty verdict on all counts charged in the superseding indictment after approximately three hours of deliberation. Torner was convicted of one count each of conspiring to distribute heroin, distributing heroin, conspiring to be a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, possessing stolen explosives, and being a felon in possession of explosives.
Robles was convicted of one count each of conspiring to distribute heroin, distributing heroin, conspiring to have a felon possess firearms and ammunition, and one count of providing firearms and ammunition to a felon. Alzugaray-Lugones was convicted of one count of conspiring to distribute heroin, and one count of distributing heroin.
The evidence presented at trial showed that in June 2015, Torner, Robles, and Alzugaray-Lugones worked together to sell approximately five grams of heroin (which is approximately 200 individual doses of heroin) to a confidential informant. The United States also presented evidence that over the course of nearly a decade, Robles purchased numerous handguns, assault rifles, a shotgun, a rifle, and ammunition that she made available to her fiancé, Torner, who was prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition as a three-time convicted felon.
After the defendants were charged in an initial indictment for the heroin trafficking and firearms offenses, Torner was released on pretrial supervision. The evidence at trial showed that while on pretrial supervision, he planted a brick of stolen U.S. military C-4 plastic explosives on one of his rental properties, last inhabited by Alzugaray-Lugones. Law enforcement officials recovered 1.5 lbs. of stolen C-4, which resulted in additional explosives charges being filed against Torner.
The United States forfeited approximately 1,500 rounds of ammunition, and several firearms seized during the investigation. The firearms are:
- Magnum Research 1911U .45acp;
- Hi-Point JHP .45acp;
- Stag Arms STAG-15, .223 cal. (a semiautomatic firearm that is capable of accepting a large capacity magazine);
- Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun; and
- Norinco MAC90 (a semiautomatic firearm that is capable of accepting a large capacity magazine); and a
- Tikka T3, 30.06 rifle.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Weatherly Police Department, the Luzerne County Drug Task Force, the Pennsylvania State Police, and other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Assistant United States Attorneys Phillip Caraballo and Todd Hinkley prosecuted 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. Attorney General Jeff Sessions 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.
The case also was 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.
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 combined maximum penalty under federal law for Torner is up to life imprisonment, for Robles up to 20 years of imprisonment, and for Alzugaray up to 20 years of imprisonment. There is also 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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