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Massachusetts woman sentenced to prison; over 5.4 kilos of drugs, $376,000 seized after fatal overdose

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BOSTON – A woman was sentenced in federal court for her role in a wide-ranging fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine trafficking conspiracy.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Justice, 31-year-old Jessica Hughes, of Orange, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman to time served (one week in prison) and three years of supervised release. On May 16, 2022, Hughes pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and cocaine base (crack cocaine).

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 revealed that Pedro and Anthony Baez worked together and with others 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. In total, 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 were seized.

Hughes was a regular drug customer of the DTO, who routinely purchased both a fentanyl/heroin mixture and crack cocaine from Pedro Baez. Hughes used most of the drugs she purchased and resold a portion to support her own addiction. It is estimated that Hughes purchased approximately 70 grams of crack cocaine and approximately 20 grams of a heroin/fentanyl mixture from Pedro Baez over a one-week period.

Hughes was charged along with 17 others in July 2020. Prior to that, she was arrested on unrelated state charges out of Orange District Court where she successfully completed the Drug Court program. Over the course of the last two years, Hughes has maintained her sobriety and now works full time as a recovery specialist.

Hughes is the 11th 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. Two of the remaining defendants, Pedro Baez and Hector Matos, 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. The Fitchburg and Lunenburg Police Departments and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service provided valuable assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alathea Porter of Rollins’ Narcotics & Money Laundering Unit prosecuted the case.

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