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A man who ran a drug delivery service for over seven years and sold tainted drugs that killed three New York residents in one day has been sentenced to prison. 

Billy Ortega, also known as “Jason” according to the Southern District of New York’s U.S. Attorney’s Office, was sentenced on Thursday after being convicted of multiple charges, including conspiracy to distribute, possession of a firearm and distribution of drugs causing death. 

Ortega, 37, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison, the office said in a news release, and five years of supervised release.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Ortega used a crew of workers — including family members and close friends — to distribute illicit drugs in New York City from 2015 to 2022. Ortega ran the drug delivery service via text message and acted as a dispatcher, coordinating deliveries between customers and couriers. 

In March 2021, Ortega intentionally mixed fentanyl into a “weak batch of cocaine,” according to the news release. That substance was then sold to at least five customers. The consumers did not know that the cocaine had fentanyl in it. 

Even before the drugs were delivered to the three people who died on March 17, Ortega was informed by another customer that someone who had consumed the laced cocaine the day before had overdosed and needed to be hospitalized and given naloxone, a medication that reverses an opioid overdose. 

After receiving the text, Ortega coordinated the deliveries of the laced drugs to Julia Ghahramani, Amanda Scher and Ross Mtangi, court documents said. All three victims died that day. 

Later in the same day, Ortega asked another drug dealer if he wanted to give the cocaine to “some girls,” telling the dealer via text message that others had said it was “to(o) strong.” Ortega continued selling drugs for another year until he was arrested.

“Ortega’s callous and remarkably evil conduct rightly deserved a significant sentence,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in the news release. “This sentence sends a message to the fentanyl traffickers causing the fentanyl epidemic in our communities that they will bear the most serious consequences.”