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An alleged drug trafficker, a detective trying to take him down, and the woman caught in the middle

With a massive investigation at stake, her allegations have sent shockwaves through New Bedford’s police department, courthouses, and jail cells.

Illustration by daniel hertzberg/for the Boston Globe

Even before she found herself on the pavement of a Fall River parking lot, wrists zip-tied behind her back, Carly Medeiros knew it was all going to end badly.

Somewhere in her mind, she’d always known. That the secrets and lies she’d spent the past two years carefully stacking up, one on top of the next, would one day come crashing down around her. That the two worlds — and the two men — she’d taken great pains to keep separate couldn’t stay that way.

Now, on a warm evening in June 2017, as police flooded this parking lot framed by weathered three-deckers, the 26-year-old watched as those worlds finally collided.


To her right, hands also secured behind his back, was her fiancé, Steven Ortiz — a New Bedford man whose name she wore tattooed above her heart. Moments earlier, police had pulled nearly 250 grams of heroin and fentanyl from the back seat of his Honda Pilot.

Just past Ortiz, Medeiros recalls seeing Jared Lucas — a brawny 33-year-old detective she’d come to know intimately. Though Lucas was still new to the gang unit in New Bedford, arguably no one had played a larger role in bringing this case to fruition: It was Lucas’s information, attributed to a confidential informant, that had brought Ortiz into their sights.

For those wearing badges, the scene that evening was a celebratory one. Investigators from at least five local, state, and federal agencies had been tracking Ortiz for a year, as part of a sweeping drug-trafficking investigation known as Operation High Stakes. All told, 21 people would be arrested on an array of drug and conspiracy charges, and some 400 grams of heroin and fentanyl seized. Thomas M. Quinn III, the Bristol County district attorney, would hold the investigation up as a hard-earned victory in the war on drugs. “Another example,” as Quinn put it, “of law enforcement agencies working together to investigate drug dealing activity that fuels ‘the opiate epidemic.’”


But in the months and years that followed, the tidy narrative laid out by law enforcement would give way to a far murkier story — a tangle of questions and allegations that experts say could have far-reaching legal implications.

In an affidavit prepared for Ortiz’s lawyer last summer, and later filed in court, Medeiros claims she was sleeping with Lucas while he was investigating Ortiz, and that she had unwittingly become his confidential informant. During their relationship, she alleges, he was using information gleaned from her to help launch an investigation that now could send Ortiz to prison for years.

But if Medeiros’s claims that the investigation is tainted are found to be legitimate, that could be good news for Ortiz — a fact not lost on some who doubt her motivations for raising them. In a court document, a prosecutor in the case has described her allegations as “uncorroborated,” and nothing more than an effort to undermine the case.

However the questions swirling around the investigation are settled, Medeiros’s affidavit has already sent shockwaves through the law offices, court houses, and jail cells of this blue-collar port city. New Bedford police, who do not identify confidential informants by policy, have nonetheless opened an internal investigation into Lucas’s alleged relationship with Medeiros. The Bristol County district attorney’s office is also evaluating her account, to determine if it will have any effect on Ortiz’s criminal case.


And the ripples could extend further. As Medeiros’s affidavit has made the rounds, other defendants have questioned whether it could help them; already, attorneys in at least two other cases have sought to use it to aid their own clients’ defenses.

At the center of the mess is an unlikely trio tied together by love, sex, and betrayal: Steven Ortiz, the alleged heroin trafficker; Jared Lucas, the young detective who tried to take him down; and Carly Medeiros, the woman who found herself caught between them.

She says they met on a night in 2013.

Medeiros, 22 years old and just getting out of a long-term relationship, had been coaxed out by a friend. They’d been joined by a man she’d never encountered named Steven Ortiz, newly single himself.

As the group drove the New Bedford streets in Ortiz’s SUV that night, a mutual friend attempted to play matchmaker, though it hardly seemed necessary: from the moment Medeiros and Ortiz were introduced, their eyes rarely left each other. A couple of days later, Ortiz called to ask Medeiros on a date. When he found out it was her birthday, he surprised her with an ice cream cake from Friendly’s.

From then on, Medeiros says, “it was like a whirlwind.” Soon, she was regularly spending the night at Ortiz’s apartment. Within a few months, they’d each tattooed the other’s name on their chests. Next to Ortiz’s name, Medeiros added a quote “Be the one to guide me but never hold me back.” He proposed on Valentine’s Day 2014, less than six months after they’d met.


Medeiros had endured a difficult early life, getting pregnant at 13 and having her first child at 14. Three more kids followed. At 17, she’d watched her father — a scalloper who’d doted on her and helped care for her first child so she could continue school — die from lung cancer. Later, she became addicted to heroin.

But in Ortiz, she says, she found a stability that had long eluded her. She was comforted that he was a homebody, like her, and that he’d faced his own difficult upbringing. As a kid, he’d been shuffled between foster homes and relatives as his mother battled addiction. At 16, court records show, he was arrested and eventually convicted of heroin possession with the intent to distribute, the first in a series of drug-related charges that would follow him into adulthood.

Medeiros was welcomed into Ortiz’s sprawling family and grew close with his five children. Her addiction had complicated custody of her own kids, and so she tried to be the mother to Ortiz’s children that she couldn’t be for her own: helping with homework, playing Xbox on nights Ortiz was out late. And Ortiz helped her in return. When she relapsed, he shuttled her to and from rehab. When she went to court seeking custody of her four kids, he paid for her lawyer.


Maybe it sounded absurd, but after a lifetime’s worth of hardship, it felt to Medeiros like larger forces were finally bringing her happiness — as if her father, watching over her, had delivered Ortiz into her life. “I hadn’t been [that] happy in a long time,” she says. “It was like I was finally realizing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Carly Medeiros’s tattoo of Steven Ortiz’s name. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

She says they met on a day in 2014.

Medeiros was leaving a beach, she later claimed in her affidavit, when a cruiser pulled up alongside her. The cop was handsome, smiling.

You’re Steven’s girl, right? he asked, and she wondered how he knew her.

If they made cops in a factory, they might come out looking like Jared Lucas: granite-jawed, with a barrel chest and biceps that perpetually strained his shirtsleeves. He’d grown up in small-town Massachusetts before enlisting in the Army, where he’d go on to serve in Afghanistan and Kosovo, according to a resume. Back home, he bought a place out by New Bedford Regional Airport. Taking advantage of a state pipeline that gives preference to veterans seeking careers in law enforcement, he took a job in 2012 with the New Bedford Police Department.

Though still among the country’s highest-grossing commercial fishing ports, New Bedford’s once-considerable fortunes have slipped over time. Levels of crime and poverty in the city rank among the state’s highest. A robust illegal drug market has prompted an aggressive police response that critics argue disproportionately affects communities of color. The same year Lucas joined the department, New Bedford officers fatally shot a Black 15-year-old named Malcolm Gracia after stopping him — unlawfully, a judge later determined — near a basketball court.

Lucas’s personnel files, obtained through a public records request, suggest an officer with a hard-charging style. During his time with the department, he racked up citizen complaints for excessive force and verbal and physical abuse. He was accused of excessive force by the same person twice in two weeks. After the man informed Lucas he’d lodged the first complaint, Lucas burst through the window of the man’s home and attempted to tase him, according to the second complaint. (Lucas was reprimanded by the department for unlawfully entering the home, but cleared of other allegations.)

In the weeks following their initial meeting near the beach, Medeiros says, she began to notice Lucas more frequently in the neighborhood. He’d wave or pull over to chat. Once, Medeiros recalls, she was walking along Cove Road when she got a call from a number she didn’t recognize.

Turn around, said the voice on the other end.

There was Lucas, waving from behind the wheel of his cruiser. How had he gotten her number? He said he’d tell her if she let him cook her dinner, but she declined.

‘At first, Medeiros says, she saw the relationship as a way to keep tabs on Ortiz.’

In an interview, Medeiros says it was Lucas who first told her that Ortiz had been unfaithful. She says Lucas summoned her one day to his cruiser and handed her a printout of text messages between Ortiz and another woman. He was sorry to be the one to tell her, but he figured she’d want to know.

Medeiros was furious, though she didn’t confront Ortiz about the messages. But soon after, Lucas invited her to dinner again. This time, she accepted.

According to Medeiros’s affidavit, Lucas drove her to his duplex. She can’t remember if it was 2014 or 2015, but says he offered her wine and cooked her steak. Later that night, she alleges, they had their first sexual encounter.

What followed, Medeiros says, was a secret relationship that spanned years. Lucas would meet her near her brother’s house, she says, or she’d walk to meet him where he was parked on patrol. Once, she claims, the two had sex in the front seat of his cruiser.

At first, Medeiros says, she saw the relationship as a way to keep tabs on Ortiz. Enraged, she needed to know where he was and who he was with — two things, she says, that Lucas always seemed to know. “The main thing I was searching for, like a psychopath, [was], What is Steven doing?” she says. “[Lucas is] giving me that . . . . I know where Steven is just by one phone call now. And the closer we got, the more [Lucas] told me.”

Later, Medeiros would come to believe that Lucas was also getting something from her: Inside information about Ortiz.

At the core of Medeiros’s story about being used against Ortiz is her claim that she and Lucas had a years-long affair, dating back to long before Ortiz was arrested. She lays out her claims in interviews and in a 100-plus page affidavit, which she wrote and compiled for Ortiz’s attorney and shared with the Globe before it was filed in Bristol County Superior Court and placed under seal.

Lucas would not address any details of Medeiros’s account with the Globe. The detective left the New Bedford Police Department in August 2021 for undisclosed reasons, and has declined repeated interview requests. A detailed list of questions sent to an e-mail address he provided also went unanswered. Meanwhile, direct evidence of the alleged relationship from this early period is scant. To hide the affair from Ortiz, Medeiros claims she deleted her digital correspondence with Lucas as it happened, and made sure the two were never photographed together.

Medeiros shows a text conversation she claims she had with Lucas. The Globe has blurred an expletive and cropped the photo up to chest level.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe staff

But at some point in 2020, Medeiros apparently stopped deleting at least some of their messages. Dozens of texts from around this time — screenshots of which Medeiros provided the Globe — are sexually explicit, including one with a near-nude photo of Lucas standing at a bathroom mirror. Cellphone records show Lucas called Medeiros at least 40 times during a 12-month period between 2020 and 2021.

“But legit for 7 years now our love has never changed and you always hold my heart,” reads a screenshot of a 2020 text from Lucas. “I love you,” he added. “And think about you everyday.”

According to Medeiros’s account, her relationship with Lucas grew increasingly serious over time. She sometimes stayed at his house when he wasn’t there, and met some of his police colleagues. Occasionally, she says, Lucas would speak of marriage.

Medeiros’s mother, Shirley, says she visited Lucas’s duplex with her daughter on several occasions. Lucas would sometimes stop by her house looking for her daughter, and though Shirley considered Lucas nice enough — she says he once brought her coffee while she was hospitalized — she warned her daughter to be careful. “I try to stay out of my kids’ [business] as much as I can, but . . . it just was a feeling you get, especially when it’s your kid,” Shirley says. “I didn’t know if he was using her to get to Steven.”

Medeiros admits that she sometimes spoke to Lucas about Ortiz. She continued to be infuriated by his infidelity, and if the occasional detail about his alleged drug dealing spilled out in her anger, she wasn’t losing sleep over it. “I said a lot of [expletive] I shouldn’t have,” she says now. In one instance detailed in her affidavit, she says she falsely told Lucas that Ortiz would have guns in his car in an effort to get him pulled over. But she is adamant that she never agreed to serve as an informant against Ortiz or signed any paperwork saying as much, steps commonly required by law enforcement agencies when working with informants.

By 2016, a year or two after Medeiros says she and Lucas began seeing each other, Lucas had earned an assignment on New Bedford’s gang unit, a plainclothes squad tasked with handling some of the city’s toughest cases. Despite his new role, Medeiros says Lucas told her he had no interest in criminally pursuing Ortiz. He was gang police, she claims he said. He didn’t care about drugs.

Still, Medeiros says the detective could seem preoccupied with Ortiz. She remembers him peppering her with questions about Ortiz’s habits and routines: Did he have guns? Who did he associate with? What did he keep stored inside a New Bedford garage?

“When I was with [Lucas], I’d need to tell him, ‘Look, if you’re going to talk about him, I can’t do this,’” Medeiros says now. “‘If I’m here, I want this relationship to be about us, not Steven.’ And he’d say, ‘You’re right, you’re right, you’re right.’ But he wouldn’t stop talking about him.”

Wherever his information came from, Lucas had enough of it by June 2016 to make a move. He arranged a meeting with agents from Homeland Security Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, court records show, and told them that a “previously reliable confidential informant” had recently spoken to him about a drug-trafficking operation allegedly led by Ortiz. According to his informant, Lucas said, Ortiz regularly acquired one to four kilograms of heroin from a supplier in the Providence area before distributing it to a network of dealers around New Bedford.

The informant is not named in the court documents, referred to only as “CI-1.” But based on the information included in the court files, which she later gained access to, Medeiros says she has no doubt that it’s her. Both Medeiros and Ortiz insist one detail cited by Lucas, about an alleged lottery ticket scheme, had to have come from Medeiros.

Armed with the account of Lucas’s informant, authorities set a goal of “disrupting and dismantling” what they came to refer to as the Ortiz Family Heroin Trafficking Organization, embarking on a sprawling multi-agency investigation.

Operation High Stakes, they called it.

‘Investigators have cited it as the single most important tool they have. But misconduct surrounding informants has also been well-documented.’

The confidential informant has long occupied an uneasy place within law enforcement. Investigators have cited it as the single most important tool they have, saying people inside criminal enterprises provide essential information unavailable to them otherwise. But misconduct surrounding informants has also been well-documented. Most notoriously, Whitey Bulger’s self-serving feeding of information to the FBI helped dismantle Boston’s Italian mob — while providing him cover to continue his own vicious reign throughout the city.

The veil of secrecy surrounding informants creates a legal blind spot, defense attorneys and legal experts say. False testimony by informants remains the leading cause of wrongful convictions in US capital cases, yet few mechanisms exist for defendants to challenge information from confidential sources. “The culture of secrecy surrounding informants is an enormous problem not only for our criminal system, but also our democracy,” says Harvard Law professor Alexandra Natapoff, author of Snitching: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice. “It prevents the American public from knowing how law enforcement actually behaves.”

Even if Lucas did use Medeiros as an informant, and even if he didn’t tell her or notify the department, it’s unclear whether he would have broken any rules. The New Bedford Police Department didn’t adopt an official policy on confidential informants until December 2016, some six months after Lucas’s information kicked off Operation High Stakes. New Bedford’s police chief, Paul Oliveira, declined to address whether any rules governing informants existed prior to that policy. In response to a detailed list of questions, Oliveira offered a pair of statements confirming his department had opened an internal investigation into Medeiros’s claims, saying the department takes all allegations of officer misconduct seriously. However, he said, it “is our policy to refrain from commenting on any allegations against our personnel that are currently under investigation.” He said the final report would be made public upon its completion.

Problematic incidents involving New Bedford police and informants have spilled into public view in the past. In 2016, according to an internal report, narcotics detective Sasha Vicente instructed an informant to skip a court appearance and then lie about it — actions a prosecutor determined would likely hinder Vicente’s ability to testify in future cases. And last summer, a Massachusetts judge found that then-detective Jean Lopez had attributed “intentionally and knowingly false” information to a confidential informant in a search-warrant affidavit, in what the judge called an “outrageous” case of untruthfulness.

Lucas himself was ordered to attend work-related counseling in 2018 after an internal affairs investigation found he’d mishandled an encounter with a potential informant, according to a report from Lucas’s personnel file. Lucas arrested a man outside a gas station, then released him after the man agreed to provide information. But Lucas never filed a report of the arrest, which was a violation of department policy. Investigators also found that Lucas had been giving potential informants business cards from a local law firm — altered to include his phone number — without the firm’s knowledge. The report was clear: Lucas needed “more guidance in his developing of informants.”

To critics in New Bedford, incidents like these represent a culture of corner-cutting when it comes to informants. “[Officers] operate under the assumption that the ends justify the means,” says Colleen Tynan, a longtime criminal defense attorney in the city. “We all want drugs off our street, we don’t want our kids to overdose, we want our city back. But . . . principles have to be maintained for every citizen.”

New Bedford attorney Christopher Trundy, past president of the Bristol County Bar Advocates, is more blunt. “If you could go back from ‘90 to present day and take every single confidential informant case from a police department, and started cross referencing,” he says, “you’d probably find that a huge number [of informants] didn’t exist.”

Daniel hertzberg/for the Boston Globe

In the summer of 2016, as Operation High Stakes investigators got to work, New Bedford was in the midst of an epidemic of overdoses brought on by an influx of fentanyl. Between 2015 and 2016, non-fatal overdoses in the city rose from 389 to 679, while overdose deaths among residents increased to 57. And a portion of the drugs in the city, investigators seemed to believe, were being moved by Ortiz and his associates.

It was a group that investigators believed to be both highly disciplined — younger members were sometimes enlisted to record the license plate numbers of undercover police vehicles, according to Lucas’s informant — and potentially violent. Multiple suspected members, including Ortiz, have faced gun charges, court records show. In 2015, Ortiz’s brother, Tommy, was charged with striking a man in the head with a crowbar, leaving the man hospitalized. The case was dropped after witnesses declined to cooperate.

The Operation High Stakes investigation proved remarkable in its scope. Investigators subpoenaed casino records looking for evidence of money laundering and screened jailhouse calls between suspected crime-ring members. They placed GPS trackers on cars, installed hidden cameras in places Ortiz was believed to be doing business, and secretly dug through his trash, once recovering a bag allegedly containing remnants of fentanyl, as well as a chemical agent commonly used to process heroin for resale. Twice, investigators allege in court records, they successfully arranged for a second confidential informant — a person identified as “CI-2″ — to purchase drugs from Tommy Ortiz. Steven was present both times.

At some points, authorities used as many as five unmarked vehicles simultaneously to monitor members of the group, while investigators from at least five local, state, and federal agencies took part. Among them was Jared Lucas. The detective is named multiple times in court records as having carried out surveillance in the case — including at Ortiz’s residence at a time when Medeiros alleges she was romantically involved with Lucas.

As investigators built their case, Ortiz was growing wary of what he describes as Medeiros’s erratic behavior. He had begun catching her in small lies — she’d say she was somewhere he knew she wasn’t — and had come to suspect her of cheating. There were other things that gnawed at him. He recalled the time, years earlier, that she’d approached him, furious, about one of his exes. She’d produced what appeared to be a mugshot of the woman, a photo Ortiz believed must have come from a police database.

Another time, Ortiz says, he’d been pulled over at a New Bedford car wash and a handful of plainclothes officers had searched his SUV. Though the search turned up nothing, he says, the officers refused to let him go immediately. When another officer arrived soon after — barrel-chested and thick-armed — the other cops chuckled at Ortiz’s confusion. You don’t know who that is? one asked, according to Ortiz.

Ortiz now believes the police were laughing at him because he didn’t know his fiancée was sleeping with Lucas. But when he confronted Medeiros about it, she brushed him off, calling him paranoid.

By the late spring of 2017, however, it no longer felt like paranoia. For months, he’d noticed unfamiliar cars tailing him. He’d also discovered a camera hidden outside his apartment.

“Yo, be careful,” Ortiz warned Tommy in a May 2017 phone call intercepted by police. “’Cuz they out here . . . like crazy.”

Not long after came the arrest that would bring Ortiz, Lucas, and Medeiros to the same pockmarked parking lot in Fall River.

On that warm evening of June 7, 2017, Ortiz pulled into the lot and exited his Honda Pilot. Investigators watched as he stood alongside another vehicle. Believing they were witnessing a drug transaction — an intercepted call had suggested Ortiz would soon be meeting with his supplier — officers jumped.

Ortiz was arrested without incident, his hands zip-tied behind his back. Medeiros, a passenger in the Pilot, was also arrested and restrained, along with another man. On the floor of the SUV’s back seat, according to court records, police recovered a plastic shopping bag containing nearly 250 grams of heroin and fentanyl. (Ortiz, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, denies having drugs.)

That evening, Ortiz did not yet know the forces that had conspired to put him here. But what he did know — what he felt in his bones — was that he didn’t yet have the full picture.

‘But even before he confronted Medeiros, he says he was struck by another emotion: Relief.’

Medeiros was right, the evening of the arrests, to feel like the two worlds she’d keep separate were about to collide. Charges against Medeiros haven’t been pursued, but Ortiz and his alleged associates were indicted on a series of drug trafficking and conspiracy charges. And even though he lacked proof, Ortiz had come to believe the whole thing hadn’t been random. “After that [arrest], my world just changed,” Ortiz recalls. “Every feeling in my heart told me something’s not right.” Soon after the arrest, he broke up with Medeiros, moving out of their apartment.

Medeiros spiraled. By that time, she says, she was using heroin heavily, and she stayed clear of New Bedford’s south end, where whispers about her ties to a local cop had begun to circulate.

Medeiros insists that, at that point, she was unaware of Lucas’s involvement with the Ortiz investigation. When she’d asked the detective why he’d been on-scene during the arrest, she says, Lucas explained he’d been called in for backup.

But she was well aware of the implications of their relationship. “It wasn’t just another man I was cheating with,” she says. It was a cop. “Cheating, you can forgive somebody for that. It was a lot worse what I was doing.”

Still, Medeiros says she and Lucas continued to see each other sporadically as the months went on. In her affidavit, she claims that the detective sometimes intervened with the authorities on her behalf, such as when she sought his help getting out of driving infractions. He also used his position, she alleges in her affidavit, to help her after a bad breakup.

Sometime around 2018, Medeiros had begun a roughly year-long relationship with Miguel Martinez, a New Bedford man with a lengthy criminal history. The breakup got ugly. When Lucas heard about it, Medeiros claims in her affidavit, he offered his assistance.

The two accounts of what happened next differ significantly.

In her affidavit, Medeiros says that she met with Lucas and Kevin Barbosa, a New Bedford police detective who had been previously reprimanded for an issue involving a confidential informant. Medeiros says they asked her to sign some kind of paperwork — something she maintains she didn’t do related to Ortiz — and then instructed her to plant drugs in Martinez’s car, which she says she did.

The other account, from a search warrant application submitted by Barbosa and filed in court, depicts a by-the-book drug buy carried out by someone identified only as a confidential informant. Using money provided by police, the informant returned with cocaine allegedly bought from Martinez.

Martinez was ultimately arrested and charged with drug-related offenses, after police executed the search warrant and found cocaine and fentanyl. A search of his vehicle, however, did not turn up the drugs Medeiros claimed to have planted there.

Barbosa did not respond to requests for comment, but Medeiros believes she is the confidential informant in his paperwork. Miguel Martinez believes it, too. In an interview from jail, where he’s being held on charges related to the case, he said Medeiros had to be the one who set him up based on the timing of the alleged drug buy.

Melissa A. Hendrie, an attorney for Martinez, told the Globe last year that her client maintained from the time of his arrest that a woman he’d been romantically involved with had set him up. “The first time I ever met him, that’s what he told me,” says Hendrie, who recently left the case. “[Martinez] specifically always said that it was a female, and they had a relationship that had gone sour, and that she was involved with Jared Lucas.”

Ortiz and Medeiros in Bristol County Superior Court in August.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

In the aftermath of Martinez’s 2019 arrest, Ortiz reconciled with Medeiros. Though he still harbored suspicions about her loyalty, the two had a history spanning nearly a decade. She’d become a de facto mother to his five children, he says, and they asked about her frequently. He still considered her the love of his life.

They hadn’t been back together long when Ortiz discovered Medeiros on the floor of the bathroom one night, barely conscious and high on drugs. After carrying her to bed, he says he returned to the bathroom to clean up and started going through her phone. From a contact who wasn’t saved by name — he later Googled the number and saw it connected to Lucas — he claims he found the sexually explicit messages, as well as the note about their relationship of seven years.

“Everything was going through my head at once,” Ortiz recalls. “I didn’t know how to take it, how to handle it, what ways to go about it. Should I be angry? Should I just say ‘[expletive] the world?’”

But even before he confronted Medeiros, he says, who would eventually tell him everything, he was struck by another emotion: Relief.

The relationship between Medeiros and Lucas, he felt, tainted the investigation into him. He called his attorney, who would eventually ask Medeiros to write down everything she remembered.

On a morning last summer, the yellow house on the corner was quiet. A white Escalade sat in the driveway. Ortiz stood on the front porch, pulling from a cigarette.

“She don’t let me smoke in the house,” he said.

He and Medeiros had recently moved to a new town that they asked not to be named. Inside, Medeiros was at a computer, reviewing the last in the series of old messages. She’d spent the past several weeks compiling everything she could about her relationship with Lucas into her account later filed in court — Instagram chats, Snapchat messages, texts. As she spoke, the image of Lucas posing in front of a bathroom mirror inched from a printer.

The internal investigation by the New Bedford police is ongoing, and the Bristol County district attorney’s office has also been reviewing Medeiros’s account. “Like in any case, if potentially exculpatory information is brought to our attention, we will review it to determine what impact, if any, it has on a case,” Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for the DA’s office, wrote in an e-mailed statement. “Beyond that, these are pending cases and we cannot publicly comment further.”

Everyone, however, appears to be gearing up for a bitter legal battle. In a recent court filing, a prosecutor accused Medeiros of blackmail, saying that, in her own written account, “She portrays herself as being [an] untruthful, malicious, conniving, and deceitful individual.” Recently, Ortiz hired prominent Boston attorney Rosemary Scapicchio to lead his defense in a case that has already spanned six years.

If the allegations are found to be true, the relationship between Medeiros and Lucas could have big legal implications. “It’s extremely problematic,” says Tom Nolan, a former Boston police lieutenant who now teaches at Emmanuel College. “If I’m a defense attorney . . . I’m going to say that the motivations on the part of investigators were not to take a drug dealer off the street and to impede his drug distributing, but it’s to remove a romantic rival. And that could stick.”

Other experts aren’t so sure it would make a difference. Laws governing how law enforcement can obtain or use informant-generated information are weak to nonexistent, says Alexandra Natapoff of Harvard. And even in cases where an officer has indeed violated departmental rules of conduct, “the information they obtained as a result might still be used against a criminal defendant.”

Regardless of the outcome, it is difficult to imagine an easy ending for anyone involved. If convicted, Ortiz could face years in prison. People he was once close to have stopped speaking to him. And though he says he has forgiven Medeiros, he is unsure that forgiveness would withstand a prison sentence and potentially losing custody of his children. “I can’t forgive somebody if I’m losing my kids,” he says.

As for Medeiros, she knows there are few things worse, on the streets of their old New Bedford neighborhood, than being labeled a snitch. Ortiz no longer lets her go to the area alone. “Steven loves me, but his friends don’t love me,” she says. “The guy selling drugs around the corner . . . don’t love me.”

There’s one place, however, where she’s apparently remained a popular figure.

Late last year, her affidavit found its way inside the walls of the Ash Street Jail, a hulking red-brick structure stationed in the heart of New Bedford, where it quickly became required reading among inmates. And it wasn’t long before some began calling Medeiros, pressing her for information with hope in their voices. Was what she’d written true? Where did Ortiz’s case stand?

Did she know anything that might help them out?

Dugan Arnett can be reached at