You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 21, 2019

Eight Charged in Wide-Ranging Fentanyl, Heroin and Cocaine Conspiracy

BOSTON – Eight individuals from Fitchburg and Gardner were charged with participating in a wide-ranging fentanyl, heroin and cocaine trafficking conspiracy.

Pedro Baez, 50, of Fitchburg; Anthony Baez, 31, of Fitchburg; Amanda Ford, 33, of Fitchburg; Monica Troche, 27, of Fitchburg; Branny Taveras, 37, of Fitchburg; Shastaalena Blair, 39, of Fitchburg; Jessica Hughes 28, of Gardner; and Valerie Lucier, 30, of Fitchburg, were charged in an indictment unsealed today with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and cocaine base. Anthony Baez and Troche were also each indicted on various drug possession and distribution charges. 

Hughes, who is currently incarcerated on state charges, will be transferred to federal custody. The remaining defendants were arrested this morning.

The charge of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, or cocaine base provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, at least three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $1 million. The other drug trafficking charges provide for a sentencing range of five years to a lifetime in prison, at least four years of supervised release and a fine of between $5 million to $10 million. Due to a previous conviction of a qualifying drug trafficking offense, Pedro Baez faces an enhanced mandatory minimum sentences. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Commissioner Carol Mici of the Massachusetts Department of Correction; and Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police made the announcement today. The case was investigated by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The Fitchburg Police Department, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Lunenburg Police Department also provided valuable assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alathea Porter of Lelling’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit are prosecuting the case. 

The operation was conducted by a multi-agency task force through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply. More information on the OCDETF program is available here: https://www.justice.gov/ocdetf/about-ocdetf.

The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Component(s): 
Updated November 21, 2019