2 arraigned on drug charges in federal court

Two city men who allegedly transported heroin laced with carfentanil, making it more potent, entered not guilty pleas at arraignments in U.S. Middle District Court this week.

Nathan Crowder Jr., 29, and Wayne S. Davidson, 24, allegedly provided the combination of drugs to four individuals who overdosed on June 28 and 29, according to U.S. Attorney David J. Freed.

During a 48-hour span a local hospital and police said at least 51 overdoses occurred, three of which were fatal.

Neither man is charged and authorities have not linked them with the specific spate of overdoses, however police said the suspected heroin is identical in color, consistency and packaging.

Crowder was indicated by a grand jury accusing him of taking part in a conspiracy to transport bulk quantities of heroin from Philadelphia to Lycoming County. The conspirators allegedly used vehicles and cellphones in the drug transactions. If convicted or found guilty, Crowder faces a maximum life sentence and Davidson a mandatory minimum of 20 years, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison VanFleet.

While both were detained without bail, Davidson has been in prison on state-related drug charges. He was charged in federal court with possession with intent to deliver heroin. Crowder is facing similar charges and conspiracy.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is used to lace heroin to increase the batch and make it stronger, has been used in in the drug illegally sold throughout the county.

Davidson was nabbed after the Lycoming County District Attorney’s Narcotics Enforcement Unit met with an informant on June 28 and had him contact Davidson to set up a purchase of heroin. Davidson sold 12 bags of heroin to the informant, who then turned over the drugs to detectives.

On June 29, detectives again had the informant call Davidson and ask to purchase 20 bags of heroin. After arriving at the designated meeting place, officers attempted to make contact with Davidson who tried to evade them on foot before he was arrested. Davidson was in possession of 20 bags of heroin he intended to sell to the informant.

Crowder also is charged with possession with intent to deliver controlled substances on Jan. 31, 2017, in Luzerne County, according to court documents.

Crowder’s trial before U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew W. Brann is set for 9:30 a.m. March 5.