Hazleton Police Report Record Meth Bust


HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Hazleton Police say it’s the biggest amount of meth they’ve ever seized in the city. Six pounds of the potentially deadly drug were taken off the streets.

Detectives say this is just the tip of the iceberg in what they are calling an intense, active investigation into the growing meth trade in the city.

You are looking at six pounds of meth…

Andy Mehalshick speaks to Hazleton Detective Lt. Anthony White about the 6 pounds of methamphetamine seized in the City earlier this month.

“Which is a record seizure in the City of Hazleton if not Northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Hazleton Police Chief Jerry Speziale.

Police chief Jerry Speziale showed us bags filled with meth.

“This is made in a foreign country in a laboratory and then shipped here. This is pure methamphetamine,” he said.

And police say 34-year-old Jose Vargas was planning on selling it on the streets of Hazleton. They described him as a foot soldier in a major meth operation based in Hazleton.

“What you have to look at whenever you’re looking at street value this is ours this is in that rock form so they break it down. We did get some dilutant with it so when you break it down you’re looking at between anywhere from $300,000 to $750,000 street value. That’s a lot of methamphetamine,” said Speziale.

Police say Vargas lived in this apartment on West Fourth Street in Hazleton. People who live near Jose Vargas say they are not surprised by his arrest and are glad to hear that the drugs are off the street. Detective Anthony White is leading this investigation and says it’s far from over.

“It’s extremely tough this is a high-level organization. We have to climb the ladder and take our time. A lot of patience and a lot of work that goes into it. Something like this that people probably don’t realize,” White said.

Hazleton Police are working with the State Police and the federal DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) on this case. More arrests are expected moving forward.

According to Speziale, Hazleton Police Department Narcotics Division began an investigation in November of 2019 due to a rising number of incidents within the city.

In the beginning of January, police seized approximately six pounds of “high quality” methamphetamine from an undisclosed location.

Hazleton Police released this image of approximately 6 pounds of methamphetamine seized in a drug bust earlier this month.

Then on January 16, around 1:00 p.m., according to the release, police arrested 34-year-old Jose L. Vargas near the intersection of Diamond Avenue and Wyoming Street.

They say Vargas was in possession of approximately $4,500. The cash was seized and shortly after the arrest, investigators executed a search warrant and raided his residence at 29 West 4th St, Hazleton.

The investigation is ongoing.

In December, Eyewitness News reported methamphetamine use in and around Hazleton was on the rise over fears that heroin was being laced with fentanyl. Click Here for that report.

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