On Monday, in Manhattan court, a drug dealer who oversaw the cocaine delivery service that resulted in three fentanyl overdose deaths in a single day was found guilty. In March 2021, Billy Ortega was employed by the on-demand drug service as a sort of dispatcher.
A federal jury in Manhattan found Ortega guilty of one count of a drug conspiracy that resulted in death, three counts of drug distribution that resulted in death, and one count of carrying a gun while engaging in a drug conspiracy.
Despite not knowing one another, Amanda Scher, Ross Mtangi, and Julia Ghahramani were three working professionals in New York City who ordered the same thing on the same day from Billy. Ortega sold the three professionals’ fentanyl-laced cocaine on March 17, 2021.
The drugs he was selling could be fatal, according to the prosecution, and a different customer had texted him to inform him that a man had received a Narcan shot the night before and ended up in the hospital before being released early the next morning.
According to evidence presented during the two-week trial in Manhattan federal court, Ortega read this text message before organizing the three deliveries from the same batch of cocaine laced with fentanyl that killed the three victims. Federal prosecutors claim that Ortega told fellow drug dealer Kaylen Rainey to deliver cocaine to a number of Manhattan addresses.
From 2015 until his arrest in 2022, Ortega operated a cocaine delivery service out of his mother’s Manhattan apartment. Orders and deliveries were handled by family and friends, and Ortega kept guns to defend his business. He was a dispatcher who coordinated drug deliveries via text message, according to the prosecution.
The mandatory minimum sentence for the charges against Ortega is 25 years in prison, and the maximum sentence is life in prison. William Drayton and Rainey, two of Ortega’s alleged runners, are awaiting sentencing.
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