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4 Charged Following Raids Targeting Fentanyl Ring

February 5, 2020 GMT

WILKES-BARRE — A drug raid conducted by the Luzerne County Drug Task Force broke up a major fentanyl distribution network as agents seized bricks of fentanyl, guns and more than $56,000 in cash, according to court documents released Wednesday.

Investigators arrested four people in connection with raids conducted Tuesday at a Hazle Street auto shop and other locations: Jose R. Rojas Tejeda, 37, of Wilkes-Barre; Jose R. Tejeda, 35, of Edwardsville; James Robert Garris Jr., 50, of Wilkes-Barre; and Emilio Jose Tejeda-Arias, 32, of Wilkes-Barre.

According to the charges, Kingston police Detective Edward Palka learned in October that an informant had been purchasing fentanyl from a local organization for years.

In conducting the deals, the informant would use a cellphone to call someone named “Dude” — identified in court documents as Edwin Jose Tejeda, who is Jose “Satchel” Tejeda’s brother. 

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Edwin Tejada has not yet been located or charged, Kingston Police Chief Richard Kotchik said.

The complaint alleges that after setting up the deals with Edwin Tejeda, the informant would meet Garris — known as “Junior” — at a rowhouse next to the Hazle Mart on Blackman Street to complete the transaction. Frequently, the Tejeda brothers dropped off the fentanyl at Garris’ house while the informant was present, according to the charges.

In the months that followed the initial report, police conducted a series of undercover fentanyl purchases from Garris, the complaints allege. Investigators learned the identities of the Tejedas brothers in December after the informant saw Jose Tejeda’s truck parked at YiYo Auto Electric and Repair Inc. at 513 Hazle St. and police pulled their driver’s license information.

After surveilling the shop for the next month, police on Tuesday raided it along with Tejeda-Arias’s home at 366 Blackman St. and Garris’ home at 397 Blackman St.

At Tejeda-Arias’s home, investigators found a Smith & Wesson .40-caliber pistol, a large garbage bag full of marijuana and Jose Rojas Tejeda’s identification, according to the complaint.

At the auto garage, police found two vehicles — a Mercedes-Benz and a For F-150 — that had hidden compartments containing drug packaging materials, $22,000 in cash, cellphones, a Glock 9mm pistol and an owe sheet, the complaint alleges.

Over at Garris’ house, police seized 100 bags of fentanyl and additional cash, police said. The total cash seized in the operation was $56,667, according to the charges.

Police charged Jose R. Rojas Tejeda, Jose R. Tejeda and Garris with 77 felony counts each, including drug trafficking, criminal conspiracy and criminal use of a communication facility.

Tejeda-Arias — who police say claimed ownership of the marijuana — was charged with one count each of drug trafficking and drug possession.

Magisterial District Judge Joseph A. Halesey arraigned the defendants on the charges Wednesday morning, denying bail for Garris on grounds that he is a flight risk and setting bail at $125,000 each for Rojas Tejeda and Tejeda.

Tejeda-Arias was released on $25,000 unsecured bail.

A preliminary hearing was set for Feb. 18.