Prosecutors: Former Latrobe man was methamphetamine distributor

Jan. 24—A former Latrobe man was sentenced earlier this month to five years in a federal prison in connection with drug trafficking activity involving methamphetamine across the region.

Joshua Birrell, 40, was ordered to spend four years on supervised release after the prison term.

Prosecutors said he was one of several people suspected of distributing methamphetamine in the region, including Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. Some of those suspects were members of the Pagan's Motorcycle Club, though authorities said Birrell was not but instead was a source of methamphetamine for the club.

A piece of mail containing the drug that was intended for Birrell was seized in May 2020, and authorities said they obtained drug-related communication between Birrell and another man during the first seven months of 2020.

He pleaded guilty in two cases to conspiracy charges. The sentence was part of a negotiated plea agreement, according to prosecutors' sentencing memorandum.

Birrell grew up in California and got involved with drugs and alcohol at a young age, defense attorney Michael DeMatt wrote in a sentencing memorandum. He came to the Pittsburgh area in 2018 and his substance abuse contributed to criminal activity, including the federal case, DeMatt said, adding that Birrell needs rehabilitation treatment to be successful in staying in recovery. He has been jailed since August 2020.

"If Mr. Birrell remains clean and sober, the public will be protected from further crimes from him, as he had demonstrated during his decade of sobriety," DeMatt wrote.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta by email at or via Twitter .