Hazleton Man Indicted For Firearms And Drug Trafficking Offenses

A syringe with ampoules, white powder, a five-dollar bill with bullets and a gun lying on a black glass background. Dangerous bad habits, addiction to drugs and gambling. Crime because of drugs.

SCRANTON, PENNSYLVANIA – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Michael Shirley, age 28, of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, was indicted on April 13, 2021, by a federal grand jury for drug trafficking and firearms offenses.

According to Acting United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, the indictment charges Shirley with distributing fentanyl and methamphetamine and possessing with the intent to distribute fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine.  The indictment further charges Shirley with possessing two firearms, including a 5.56 caliber rifle, in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and for possessing them having been previously convicted of a felony offense.

The matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and the Pennsylvania State Police.  Assistant United States Attorney James Buchanan is prosecuting the case.


This case 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.

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. The Department of Justice 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. 

Indictments are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

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 maximum penalty under federal law for these offenses is life imprisonment, 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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