November 28, 2012
WILKES-BARRE – One of four people in court Tuesday for facing manufacturing and trafficking methamphetamine charges in Luzerne and Columbia counties entered a guilty plea.
Alfred Bruzgulis, 34, of White Haven, pleaded guilty to charges of corrupt organization and possession of a controlled substance, while Robert Shaffer, 49, of White Haven, requested a jury trial on related charges.
Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr. said Bruzgulis will be sentenced on Jan. 17 while Shaffer will face a trial on Jan. 22.
Two others, Donna Kocher, 53, and Glen Kocher, 50, both of Wilkes-Barre, are expected to enter guilty pleas to related charges on Dec. 27.
The four were among two dozen charged last November in Operation Explosive Impact, an investigation by the state Office of Attorney General.
The investigation has dismantled 17 meth labs, including mobile labs in vehicles, since June 2011.
Meth labs were uncovered in Wilkes-Barre, Newport Township, Dorrance Township, Nescopeck Township, Nanticoke, Edwardsville, Hollenback Township and Beach Haven.
Investigators say eight organizations worked independently to produce and provide enough methamphetamine for individuals in their groups.
Agents allege they found large amounts of methamphetamine, chemicals, medications and generators in each of the labs.
According to court papers, agents made four controlled purchases from the Kochers between May and June 2011. Glen Kocher later told police he used a Regent Street, Wilkes-Barre, garage and a camper in Buck Township as drug-making locations.
Prosecutors say Shaffer was involved in the trafficking and production of methamphetamine, while Bruzgulis purchased methamphetamine from Glen Kocher on several occasions.
Others involved in the drug ring are awaiting trial or have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.