Leader and Top Lieutenant in Major New Bedford Area Drug Trafficking Ring Sentenced to Prison
Bristol County District Attorney’s Office
Thomas M. Quinn III
October 7, 2021
The leader and a top lieutenant of a major New Bedford-area fentanyl trafficking ring, which was dismantled more than two years ago as a result of a year-long multi-agency investigation led by Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III’s office were both sentenced to state prison recently.
Orlando Badillo, 42, of New Bedford, who was the leader of the fentanyl trafficking organization pleaded guilty in Fall River Superior Court on September 24 to indictments charging him with trafficking fentanyl in excess of 100 grams, trafficking fentanyl in excess of 36 grams and conspiracy to violate the drug laws. Judge Susan Sullivan sentenced him to serve eight to ten years in state prison, to be followed by two years of supervised probation.
One of his top lieutenants and distributors, Pedro Cruz, 41, of New Bedford, pleaded guilty on September 30 to indictments charging him with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, possession of a class D drug with intent to distribute and conspiracy to violate the drug laws. He was sentenced to serve five-and-a-half to eight years in state prison and was ordered to forfeit $3,070 illegally obtained via narcotics sales.
The “Operation Ghost” investigation began in June of 2018, when a Dartmouth Police detective developed credible information that Badillo was operating a large scale Fentanyl Drug Trafficking Organization throughout the greater New Bedford area. Knowing that such an investigation would require a tremendous amount of resources, the detective sought the assistance of the Massachusetts State Police Narcotics Unit assigned to the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office. The Dartmouth detective began working with state troopers assigned to DA Quinn’s office, and together, using conventional investigative tools, they began developing information and gathering evidence on the members of this sophisticated and disciplined organization.
As they progressed, other local and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies including the DEA, Homeland Security, the Bristol County Sherriff’s Office, New Bedford Police and others joined in the investigation, creating a Multi-Jurisdictional Investigative Task Force. Their goal was to stop the illegal distribution of fentanyl by Badillo and his associates, and to dismantle their entire organization. As the investigation progressed, Investigators began identifying other members of the organization and learning about the various roles they played. Some individuals operated as drug couriers, others were drug distributors and some individuals were identified as street level dealers/customers.
In March of 2019, investigators sought authorization from a Superior Court Judge to utilize court-authorized wiretaps which would allow investigators to intercept the cell phone conversations and text messages going to and from the cell phones used by Mr. Badillo and other top members of his organization. Between March 5, 2019 and April 30, 2019, investigators gathered additional evidence, via the wiretap, that explained in detail the intricate workings of the Badillo Drug Trafficking Organization and confirmed some of the suspicions investigators had about to the roles played by the various members of the organization. In addition, investigators learned about the Fentanyl supply lines going to and from the organization, including the identity of the individual, who was supplying large amounts of raw Fentanyl to the organization.
During the term of the wiretap, investigators intercepted numerous calls between Badillo and Cruz where they discuss the drug business and specifically the outstanding accounts of many of their drug customers.
On March 15, 2019 Defendant Cruz sold an amount of Fentanyl to a known New Bedford drug dealer. That dealer had placed his order with Defendant Cruz, and Cruz agreed to deliver it to his residence. Surveillance units set up and observed the defendant arrive at the buyer’s residence. The two individuals met for less than a minute and departed. That behavior was consistent with a drug sale. Then the very next day, the same street level dealer again called the defendant and placed another order for an amount of Fentanyl. Again, the defendant agreed and delivered it to his residence. That delivery was also observed by surveillance units. This is just an example of the many drug sales the defendant made during the wiretap period that illustrates his ongoing conspiracy to distribute fentanyl with Orlando Badillo and others.
At the close of the investigation, police obtained a search warrant for Defendant Cruz’s residence. Police seized 8.9 grams of Fentanyl, 89.82 grams of marijuana and $3,070 in US Currency suspected to be the proceeds from drug sales.
On April 30, 2019 after almost one year of investigation, the members of this multi-jurisdictional task force applied for and were granted 11 search warrants and 13 arrest warrants. At the end of the day, police had seized approximately 5,000 grams of fentanyl, (5 Kilos); 13 grams of crack cocaine; 35 grams of methamphetamine; an illegal large capacity firearm; assorted items consistent with the illegal distribution of narcotics including but not limited to, digital scales, boxes of sandwich baggies, sifters, cut corner baggies, cutting agents, and drug ledgers. In addition, police seized a total of $112,333.00 in cash that is believed to be the proceeds from the illegal sales of fentanyl.
“Operation Ghost” was coordinated by Assistant District Attorney Steve Butts, the Chief of DA Quinn’s Drug Prosecution Unit. ADA Butts also prosecuted these two cases.
“I’m very pleased these defendants were held accountable for running a large scale fentanyl distribution ring out of the city of New Bedford. Both defendants had significant criminal records and were fueling the drug habits of many people in New Bedford and surrounding communities. They clearly are dangers to the community and the state prison sentences were appropriate,” District Attorney Quinn said. “Much of the evidence against the defendants was obtained through the use of court-ordered wiretaps. I want to thank the investigators from the various agencies involved for their efforts and perseverance in this case.”
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