The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Sherquille Ernest, 26, of Mount Pocono, Pa., pleaded guilty on June 12, 2019, before U.S. District Court Senior Judge A. Richard Caputo to the charge of conspiracy to distribute heroin and crack cocaine.According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Ernest admitted to participating in a conspiracy to distribute between 20 and 40 grams of heroin (which is equivalent to 800 to 1,600 individual doses of heroin), as well as between 28 and 112 grams of crack cocaine, in the Monroe County area between May and July 2015. Ernest was one of 11 individuals indicted by a grand jury in July 2015, and charged with conspiring to distribute heroin, powder cocaine and crack cocaine in the Monroe County area.Judge Caputo ordered a presentence report to be completed. Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date.The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Robert J. O’Hara is prosecuting the case.This case was brought as part of a districtwide 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.The 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 allU.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.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 charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison. The maximum penalty under federal law is up to 40 years in prison, 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.