EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — A Wilkes-Barre man faces life in prison after a grand jury indicted him on drug trafficking, firearm, and lying to a federal agent charges.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Ernesto Richards, 46, formerly of Wilkes-Barre, was indicted by a grand jury on Tuesday for drug trafficking, firearms, and false statement offenses.

The U.S. Attorney Gerard M. Karam says the indictment states Richards allegedly conspired to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine in Luzerne County between February and September of 2022.

Officials say during that time, Richards also allegedly conspired to import cocaine from foreign countries and possessed firearms, including a stolen gun in relation to his drug trafficking activities.

Court papers say, In addition to the drug conspiracy indictment, Richards was also charged with three counts of distributing and possessing with intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine. Richards was also charged with possessing firearms in the advancement of his drug trafficking activities, and with possessing firearms and ammunition despite being prohibited as a convicted felon.

U.S. Officials say Richards was also charged with lying to federal agents about his drug trafficking activities.

Accoridng to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the penalties under federal law for the most serious narcotics charges are a minimum of 5 years and a maximum 40-year term in prison, followed by a term of supervised release and a fine.

The DOJ says the most serious firearms charge carries a mandatory 5-year term in prison and a maximum term of life, to run consecutively with any other term of imprisonment imposed a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine.

The false statement charges carry up to a 5-year term of imprisonment, a term of supervised
release following imprisonment, and a fine.