Leader of Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Organization with Ties to Mexican Cartel Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison
BOSTON – A Fitchburg man was sentenced today in federal court in Worcester for his role in a wide-ranging fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and cocaine base (crack cocaine) trafficking conspiracy.
Ricky Figueroa, 31, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman to 31 months in prison and three years of supervised release. On Nov. 30, 2021, Figueroa pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, 400 grams or more of fentanyl, 280 grams or more of cocaine base and 500 grams or more of cocaine, as well as to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 280 grams of cocaine base and 500 grams or more of cocaine.
According to court documents, following a fatal fentanyl overdose in September 2018, an investigation began into a drug trafficking organization (DTO) in the Fitchburg area led by co-conspirators Pedro Baez and Anthony Baez. Intercepted phone communications by the DTO and its suppliers revealed that Figueroa routinely supplied distributor quantities of cocaine and crack cocaine to the Baez DTO as well as street-level amounts of cocaine, crack cocaine and fentanyl to multiple customers. In total, Figueroa was responsible for distributing at least 1.2 kilograms of cocaine, 590 grams of crack cocaine, and 45 grams of a fentanyl and heroin mixture.
Over the course of the investigation, over 1.8 kilograms of a heroin and fentanyl mixture, over 3.6 kilograms of cocaine and over 50 grams of crack cocaine, as well as a stolen, loaded handgun, drug manufacturing equipment and over $376,000 was seized.
Figueroa was charged along with 17 others in July 2020. Figueroa is the sixth defendant to be sentenced in the case. In December 2020, Anthony Baez was sentenced by Judge Hillman to 13 years in prison and five years of supervised release. Pedro Baez pleaded guilty on Feb. 2, 2021 and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 17, 2022. Four of the remaining defendants, Amanda Ford, Branny Taveras, Hector Matos, and Rafael Hidalgo Rodriguez have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston 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 Fitchburg Police Department, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Lunenburg Police Department also provided valuable assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alathea Porter of Rollins’ Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit prosecuted the case.
The operation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Strike Force Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations.
The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.