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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Colombian National Charged in North Dakota with Operating a Continuing Criminal Enterprise From Canadian Prison


Acting U.S. Attorney Christopher C. Myers for the District of North Dakota announced today that on July 17, 2015, Daniel Vivas Ceron, 34, of  Colombia, North Dakota, was taken into custody in Panama City, Panama, in connection with an indictment from the District of North Dakota charging him with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and controlled substance analogues resulting in serious bodily injury and death, conspiracy to import controlled substances and controlled substance analogues in to the United States resulting in serious bodily injury and death, aiding and abetting the distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death, money laundering conspiracy and continuing criminal enterprise.

Ceron appeared in a Panamanian court on July 20, 2015, and is awaiting extradition to the United States.

The arrest comes as part of “Operation Denial,” an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation into the international trafficking of fentanyl and other lethal drugs and was significantly aided by the national and international coordination led by the Special Operations Division (S.O.D.), which is a multi-agency near Washington D.C., as part of “Operation Deadly Merchant.”  The investigation started in North Dakota on Jan. 3, 2015, with the overdose death of Bailey Henke, 18, of Grand Forks, North Dakota.

The indictment alleges Ceron operated a continuing criminal enterprise while imprisoned in Canada that moved fentanyl and other similar substances from Canada and China into the United States and that those drugs resulted in serious bodily injury and death.  If convicted, Ceron faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

“The cooperation of law enforcement in North Dakota, Oregon, Florida and Canada has been exemplary in this case – these agencies worked tirelessly as one unit to target, identify and dismantle this organization in an effort to prevent additional deaths,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Chris Myers.  “The fact that in just a few months this law enforcement team has been able to take this investigation from Grand Forks, across the United States and into Canada is a tribute to the dedication of these agents to public safety in both the United States and Canada.”

“The illegal distribution of fentanyl, as the number of drug overdoses tied to this investigation show, has wreaked havoc across the country,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams for the District of Oregon.  “National problems such as this require a coordinated national response – and that is exactly what our offices have done to hold the perpetrators of this destruction accountable.”

Additional defendants charged in federal court as part of this investigation include:

District of North Dakota

    Jameson Robert Sele, 20, Grand Forks, North Dakota, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and was sentenced on July 27, 2015, to 36 months imprisonment.
    
    Ryan Jon Jensen, 20, Grand Forks, North Dakota, pleaded guilty on Feb. 27, 2015, to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances resulting in serious bodily injury and death; two counts of distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death and distribution of a controlled substance resulting in serious bodily injury and money laundering conspiracy.  Currently awaiting sentencing.
    
    David Todd Noye Jr., 18, Grand Forks, North Dakota, pleaded guilty on May 4, 2015, to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.  Currently awaiting sentencing.
    
    Joshua Tyler Fulp, 20, Grand Forks, North Dakota, pleaded guilty on June, 23, 2015 to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances resulting in serious bodily injury and death and money laundering conspiracy.  Currently awaiting sentencing.
    
    Kain Daniel Schwandt, 19, Grand Forks, North Dakota pleaded guilty on July 24, 2015, to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.  Currently awaiting sentencing.
    
    Brandon Corde Hubbard, 40, Portland, Oregon was indicted for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances resulting in serious bodily injury and death, distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death and money laundering conspiracy. Trial is currently set for Sept. 15, 2015.

District of  Oregon

    Steven Fairbanks Locke with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance.Trial set for Sept. 15, 2015.

    Channing Lacey with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance resulting in serious bodily injury, distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.Trial set for Sept. 22, 2015.

    Carissa Marie Laprall with three counts of distribution of a controlled substance resulting in serious bodily injury and possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.Trial set for Sept. 22, 2015.

This case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration, Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Portland Police Bureau – Drugs and Vice Division, Portland HIDTA Interdiction Task Force, Oregon State Police, the Grand Forks Police Department and Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

Acting U.S. Attorney Myers and Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Schneider are prosecuting the cases in North Dakota; Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Kerin is prosecuting the cases in the District of Oregon and will be assisting as a Special Assistant U.S Attorney in North Dakota as the investigation moves forward.

An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

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