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Ortiz gets 7 years for leading drug ring in Orleans County

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BURLINGTON — Juan Carlos “JC” Ortiz, a 29-year-old from Springfield, Massachusetts, was sentenced today to 95 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release for his role in drug conspiracies that largely affected Orleans County and other parts of the Northeast Kingdom.

United States District Judge Christina Reiss handed down the sentence after Ortiz pled guilty to conspiring with others to distribute fentanyl and cocaine base from November 2021 to August 2022.

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The sentencing follows a comprehensive investigation led by the Northeastern Vermont Drug Task Force and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, among other federal and local agencies.

Ortiz was indicted on charges stemming from two overlapping drug conspiracies, which implicated thirteen individuals, mostly residents of the Northeast Kingdom. All co-defendants have pleaded guilty, with some still awaiting sentencing.

During his time in Vermont, Ortiz was found to have used several residences across Orleans, Essex, and Caledonia Counties for drug preparation and distribution, relying on local connections for support and logistics.

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The court noted Ortiz’s role as an organizer or leader in these conspiracies. The investigation also revealed that several conspirators possessed firearms, some of which were exchanged for drugs, highlighting the severity of the operation.

The United States Attorney for the District of Vermont, Nikolas P. Kerest, emphasized the collaborative efforts of multiple agencies in addressing federal crime in the region.

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