Gang members plead guilty on drug charges
WILLIAMSPORT - Three gang members with ties to the Shamokin and Mount Carmel areas pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to conspiring to sell crack cocaine and heroin.
Each face a minimum of five years imprisonment and four years supervised release at sentencing, scheduled for Aug. 19.
A plea agreement was signed April 30 by Renard Durant, 27, of Bloomsburg, Shelton Cochrane II, 37, of Mount Carmel, and Gilberto Lanzot Jr., 32, of Wilkes-Barre.
George J. Rocktashel of the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Middle District of Pennsylvania intends to seek the dismissal of additional counts against the three as part of the plea agreement.
The trio and a fourth conspirator, Jeffrey Tripp, 27, of Kulpmont, confessed to working to sell 3.5 ounces of heroin and 3.9 ounces of crack cocaine as members of the Pennsylvania branch of a street gang named Almighty Renegade Gangsta Bloods.
Durant led the branch and Cochrane, Lanzot and Tripp were among between its 10 and 15 members, prosecutors say.
Cash and guns were traded to buy drugs in the Hazleton area of Luzerne County as well as New York and New Jersey. Drugs, guns, cash and gang literature - writings on oaths, bylaws, alliances and gang hierarchy - were all stored at various locations, including at unidentified homes in Shamokin and Mount Carmel as well as at Tripp's former residence at 943 Chestnut St., Kulpmont, and Durant's at 567 W. Main St., Bloomsburg, according to court records.
The group sold the drugs in Northumberland and Columbia counties beginning around July 2011 through their arrest in June 2012.
Durant and Tripp were indicted by a grand jury in June 2012 on charges of distribution of heroin, crack cocaine and marijuana in Northumberland and Columbia counties. A superseding indictment following in December 2012 charging Cochrane and Lanzot. A second superseding indictment was returned in March.
All four originally pleaded not guilty.
Tripp was the first to change his plea, doing so in December and cooperating with prosecutors. His sentencing is scheduled for June 11 in Williamsport.
The others changed their pleas last month and avoided a trial scheduled to begin Wednesday. Their sentencing hearings will be scheduled upon receipt of a presentencing report by the U.S. Probation Office.