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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 3, 2021

Fitchburg Woman Pleads Guilty to Role in Fentanyl, Heroin, Crack and Cocaine Conspiracy

BOSTON – A Fitchburg woman pleaded guilty today in federal court in Worcester to her role in a wide-ranging fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine trafficking conspiracy.

Amanda Ford, 35, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and cocaine base. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman scheduled sentencing for March 22, 2022. Ford was charged along with 17 others in July 2020.

According to court documents, following a fatal fentanyl overdose in September 2018, law enforcement began an investigation into a drug trafficking organization (DTO) in the Fitchburg area led by co-conspirators Pedro Baez and Anthony Baez. Beginning in July 2019, intercepted electronic communications between Pedro and Anthony Baez and other members of the DTO revealed that Ford worked with Pedro and Anthony Baez to distribute a fentanyl and heroin mixture and crack cocaine on a regular basis to individuals in the Fitchburg area who then redistributed that mixture to others.

Over the course of the investigation, agents seized 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. 

Ford is the 10th defendant to plead guilty in the case. In December 2020, Anthony Baez was sentenced by Judge Hillman to 13 years in prison. Defendants Pedro Baez, Monica Troche, Valerie Lucier, Shastaalena Blair, Ricky Figueroa, Hector Matos, Rafael Hidalgo Rodriguez, and Pablo Vidarte Hernandez have also pleaded guilty to the superseding indictment.

The charge of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and cocaine base, provides for a sentence of up to life in prison, a term of supervised release of at least three years and up to life, and a fine of up to $10 million. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; 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. Valuable assistance was provided by the Fitchburg and Lunenburg Police Departments; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and the Massachusetts State Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alathea Porter, of Mendell’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit, is prosecuting the case.  

The operation was conducted 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. 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 remaining 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 December 3, 2021