Heroin network leader gets lengthy, necessary sentence

The mastermind for a regionwide heroin distribution network was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison last week.

The tale told through Kalif English’s words prior to sentencing as well as the indictment that led to his conviction is scary and instructive.

English grew up fatherless on the streets of Philadelphia and learned the illegal drug trade as a means to buy sneakers and survive without a family.

He asked for mercy, revealed he had searched his soul and acknowledged his moral shortcomings.

Middle District Judge Matthew W. Brann weighed English’s acknowledgement of a life not well lived against the facts of his drug network life.

English was the mastermind of a 27-person conspiracy to distributee between 1 and 3 kilograms of heroin, which amounts to somewhere between 40,000 and 120,000 doses of potentially fatal heroin in $10 bags.

The clientele ranged from Williamsport to Mansfield to Danville to Bloomsburg.

English sold 231 bags of heroin in March 2015 in Lycoming County and elsewhere. He and another conspirator sold 60 bags of heroin in August of that year. He sold 933 bags of heroin and 63 bags of cocaine on one other day that month.

The conspiracy network was making $10,000 a day and English bragged to a trooper that their volume was so large it dropped the price of heroin in the region.

The judge weighed the contrition against the facts and came up with a 21-year prison sentence for the 30-year-old English.

There is no perfect formula for determining the perfect sentence in cases such as these. And there is no way of knowing how many lives were ruined by English’s distribution network.

An unfortunate youth experience notwithstanding, sentences in these cases have to be harsh.