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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Vermont
For Immediate Release
Nikolas Kerest, United States Attorney
www.justice.gov/usao-vt
Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Massachusetts Man Sentenced for Northeast Kingdom Drug Conspiracy

Burlington, Vermont – The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont stated that Juan Carlos “JC” Ortiz, 29, of Springfield, Massachusetts, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Christina Reiss to a term of 95 months’ imprisonment to be followed by a 5-year term of supervised release. Ortiz had previously pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to distribute fentanyl and cocaine base between November 2021 and August 2022 under a plea agreement he reached with the United States.

According to court records, Ortiz was charged in two separate but related indictments involving overlapping drug conspiracies. Between the two indictments, thirteen individuals—mostly residents of the Northeast Kingdom—were charged with distributing controlled substances and conspiring to do the same. All have since been adjudged guilty, though several are still awaiting sentencing. At today’s sentencing hearing, the Court recognized that Ortiz was an organizer or leader in those drug conspiracies. Ortiz stayed with multiple hosts, some of whom were his codefendants in the cases, in locations throughout Orleans, Essex, and Caledonia Counties when he was in Vermont, using their residences to prepare and distribute controlled substances. Ortiz also relied on coconspirators to complete drug distributions he had previously arranged and to provide him with transportation between residences and to Massachusetts to acquire and distribute controlled substances. Several of the conspirators possessed firearms during the drug-distribution activities and acquired firearms in exchange for drugs.

The sentencing hearing followed a long-term investigation conducted by multiple local, county, state and federal agencies that was led by the Northeastern Vermont Drug Task Force (NEVDTF) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). NEVDTF and ATF were assisted in this investigation by agents with Homeland Security Investigations, detectives and troopers from the Vermont State Police, members of the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department, the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, the Newport Police Department, aviators with the Air & Marine Operations component of United States Customs & Border Protection, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. United States Attorney Nikolas P. Kerest reiterated the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s commitment to addressing federal crime in the Northeast Kingdom and commended the excellent collaboration of federal, state, county and local law enforcement agencies required to investigate and to prosecute this case.

The United States is represented in this matter by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Lasher. Richard Bothfeld, Esq. represented Juan Carlos Ortiz.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results. For more information about Project Safe Neighborhoods, please visit Justice.gov/PSN.

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