A New Yorker who ran a drug delivery service was convicted this week of sending fentanyl-tainted powder to three “customers” who died in the same day.
Billy Ortega, 36, dispatched fellow drug dealer Kaylen Rainey, 30, to three addresses in Manhattan on March 17, 2021 — to attorney Julia Ghahramani, trading executive Ross Mtangi, and social worker Amanda Scher — all of whom died of overdoses that day, the Department of Justice said.
Text messages presented by prosecutors show Scher asking Ortega if the current “batch” is “the same as it was Sunday? Because that was not good lol, had to get rid of it.” Ortega replied that it was new and particularly potent. He tried to reach her several times after that, but she never responded, according to the New York Post.
A number associated with the delivery service also tried unsuccessfully to reach Ghahramani after her drug purchase.
Ortega pleaded not guilty, but a federal jury convicted him of on count of narcotics conspiracy resulting in death, three counts of narcotics distribution resulting in death, and one count of use and carrying of a firearm in furtherance of the narcotics conspiracy. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison, the Department of Justice said.
“Billy Ortega ran a drug delivery service that delivered fentanyl, killing three victims on a single day,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said in a statement. “Worse yet, Ortega was fully aware that a customer had previously overdosed from the deadly fentanyl Ortega laced into his product, yet continued sending the drugs to his victims. As a unanimous jury determined, Ortega will now be held accountable for the victims’ tragic and untimely deaths.”
Ortega, Rainey, and 30-year-old William Drayton — who acted as a courier for the group on other days — were arrested a year ago. Drayton previously pleaded guilty and is due to be sentenced on February 17.
The status of Rainey’s case is unclear.
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[Featured image: Billy Ortega/US District Court Southern District of New York]