Cocaine shipped from Panama intercepted, Wilkes-Barre man charged

·2 min read

Sep. 23—WILKES-BARRE — A package of cocaine shipped from Panama was intercepted and delivered to the Wilkes-Barre address that was raided by federal and state law enforcement authorities Thursday afternoon.

Ernesto Robert Richards, 36, was arrested after authorities observed him picking up the package from the porch of 12 Regent St., according to court records.

Richards was arraigned Friday by District Judge Thomas Malloy in Wilkes-Barre on multiple drug delivery, firearm and child endangerment charges. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $250,000 bail.

According to the criminal complaint:

A package shipped from Panama destined to 12 Regent St., Wilkes-Barre, was intercepted by agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection at a FedEx facility in Memphis, Tenn, on Sept. 7. An x-ray of the parcel revealed an anomaly and an examination of its contents revealed a large amount of white powder concealed within place mats and multiple shirts.

The white powder tested positive for cocaine, the complaint says.

Authorities replaced the cocaine with a sham material and proceeded to deliver the package to the Regent Street address.

An undercover state police trooper delivered the package knocking on the door of 12 Regent St.

Richards exited the adjacent residence, 10 Regent St., and instructed the undercover trooper to leave the package on the porch being placed against the front door of 12 Regent St.

After the package was left behind, Richards exited his residence and conducted a "counter surveillance sweep of the residential block" before returning to his residence, the complaint says.

Another man arrived at the residence making contact with Richards before entering 10 Regent St.

Richards was allegedly observed exiting 10 Regent St., conducted another counter surveillance sweep of the block before returning to the porch picking up the package from 12 Regent St. and going into his residence.

Agents detained Richards and the other man after they emerged from 10 Regent St.

A federal search warrant was served at the residence resulting in authorities finding the package on a couch, approximately 150 grams of crack cocaine in three bags, two digital scales, a Taurus .40-caliber pistol, a Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol, a Bryco Arms .380-caliber pistol and about $11,000, the complaint says.

The .40-caliber pistol was reported stolen in North Carolina.

A records check showed Richards has a criminal history prohibiting him from owning, carrying and possessing firearms, the complaint says.

During an interview with authorities, Richards allegedly admitted the crack cocaine, three firearms and cash belonged to him.