ORANGE, Mass. (WWLP) – An Orange woman has pleaded guilty in federal court Monday for drug charges involving fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine.

Jessica Hughes of Orange pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and cocaine base (crack cocaine). Hughes is one of 17 others that was charged for several kilograms of drugs seized by police.

According to court documents, officers began an investigation on Pedro and Anthony Paez in September 2018 following a deadly fentanyl overdose in the Fitchburg area. Police discovered that Pedro and Anthony were distributing a fentanyl and heroin mixture as well as crack cocaine to people in Fitchburg who then resold the product. Hughes was one of the regular drug customers that routinely bought the fentanyl/heroin mixture from Pedro Paez.

Eventually, police were able to arrest 18 people involved and seized over 1.8 kilograms of a heroin and fentanyl mixture, over 3.6 kilograms of cocaine and over 50 grams of crack cocaine, as well as a stolen, loaded handgun, drug manufacturing equipment and over $376,000. 

Hughes is the 13th person involved to plead guilty for drug charges. In December 2020, Anthony Paez was sentenced to 13 years in prison for his involvement.

Hughes is scheduled to be arraigned on October 6.