BANGOR, Maine — A “major player” in what a judge called a “catastrophic” Bangor-based drug trafficking and distribution scheme was sentenced Monday to spend the next 70 months in a New Jersey federal prison.
Steven Orosco, 25, of Bangor is one of 14 defendants facing charges stemming from a bath salts distribution ring that operated in the Bangor area in 2011. U.S. District Court Judge John Woodcock imposed close to the 73-month sentence recommended by federal prosecutors.
“You were a willing part of a community-eroding drug conspiracy,” Woodcock told an apologetic Orosco before imposing his sentence. “If I could look into the future and know what your life was going to be, this would be a lot easier.”
Orosco pleaded guilty to federal charges last year.
The court reduced Orosco’s sentence from a proposed 84 months because he already had served 14 months in jail on a related drug possession conviction in state court.
Woodcock didn’t impose a fine on Orosco, arguing that money would be better used going toward the support of Orosco’s two children by his longterm girlfriend. Orosco will be under supervised release for three years after the end of his prison term, subject to searches and drug screenings. He also will be required to see a counselor and undergo addiction treatment while in prison.
Woodcock encouraged Orosco to get his GED, as well as job training, so he might have an easier time finding work when he’s released. Orosco attended high school in California but dropped out. He moved from West Virginia to Maine at age 20 and got involved in the bath salts ring soon after.
Prosecutors said Orosco was a “trusted associate” of Ryan Ellis, who admitted to orchestrating the bath salts ring and has yet to be sentenced. Orosco and others in what prosecutors called “the crew” were responsible for packaging and distributing the bath salts that Ellis obtained from China.
The drug is known to cause paranoia, convulsions and psychotic behavior in users.
Orosco, who entered the courtroom in shackles, read a statement to the court before Woodcock delivered his sentence. He said he became addicted to bath salts and then started dealing bath salts at an “emotional low point” in his life.
“The only result I ever ended up with was more addiction and a higher tolerance to the drugs,” he added, tearing up.
Orosco said he was sober after his release from jail in 2012, but the pressure of learning he might face federal charges in addition to the ones he faced from the state caused him to relapse. After his relapse and more probation violations, he turned himself in.
“Your honor, for my poor choices, I am sorry. For letting my addiction control me, I am sorry,” Orosco said, adding that he now recognizes how his actions affected others.
Several of Orosco’s family members, including his brother, mother and girlfriend, wiped away tears as he spoke.
Orosco’s lawyer asked the court for a 42-month sentence.
Ten of the 14 people involved in the ring have been sentenced to varied terms based on their level of involvement and criminal history.
Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.