A New Bedford woman who the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office said was one of the top lieutenants in the Orlando Badillo fentanyl trafficking organization was sentenced to prison last week, D.A. Tom Quinn announced today.

Kelly Rodrigues, 43, of New Bedford pled guilty in Fall River Superior Court last Friday to indictments charging her with trafficking fentanyl, possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and conspiracy.

According to the D.A.’s Office, Rodrigues was “one of the organization’s distributors and was a close confidante of the drug ring’s leader (Orlando Badillo).”

Rodrigues was sentenced to serve four to six and a half years in state prison. The D.A.’s Office said she has a five-page criminal record, dating back to 1992 and has been convicted of distributing heroin on at least two prior occasions.

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The latest convictions stem from “Operation Ghost,” which began in June 2018 when a Dartmouth Police detective and a Massachusetts State Police trooper from the D.A.’s State Police Drug Unit developed information that Badillo was operating a large-scale fentanyl ring throughout greater New Bedford.

The year-long multi-agency effort expanded to include New Bedford Police, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Homeland Security and the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office.

In March 2019, investigators were authorized to begin intercepting phone calls and texts from the phones of Badillo and other top members of the organization. The D.A.’s Office said that from March 5 to April 30 of that year, investigators gathered additional evidence through the wiretaps “that explained in detail the intricate workings of the Badillo drug trafficking organization and confirmed the roles played by the various members of the organization.”

That included conversations between Badillo and Rodrigues where “he would consult with her about the illegal enterprise and seek her advice on problems that had arisen with other members of the organization,” according to the D.A.

In March 2019, Rodrigues sold a large quantity of fentanyl to one of the organization’s customers, and in April 2019 investigators seized five grams of fentanyl and more than $3,000 in cash during a raid of her Myrtle Street home.

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