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Three sentenced for fentanyl distribution in North Dakota

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(The Center Square) – A U.S. District judge in North Dakota sentenced three foreign nationals to lengthy prison terms for their role in a fentanyl distribution ring, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Operation Denial began with the 2015 overdose death of North Dakota resident Bailey Henke. The investigation has led to 31 arrests in North Dakota and three in Oregon.

Colombia native Daniel Vivas Ceron will serve a 27-year prison sentence for his role in distributing fentanyl while in a Canadian prison, according to a DOJ news release. The shipments were made from China to Canada, and some of the drugs were also shipped to the U.S. The shipments are tied to 15 overdoses, four fatal, in the U.S., according to the DOJ. Ceron’s co-conspirator, Jason Joey Berry of Canada, is serving a 24-year sentence.

A third co-conspirator, Canadian resident Xuan Cahn Nguyen, also known as Jackie Chan, was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Five North Dakota and three Oregon residents received prison sentences for their role in the distribution ring. Another 13 U.S. residents have been convicted and sentenced, according to the DOJ. Two Canadian residents have sentencing dates for later this year.

“These defendants are responsible for fentanyl poisoning deaths in North Dakota and several other states, and today’s strong sentence ensures accountability for those crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Mac Schneider for the District of North Dakota. “This result is a credit to the tireless work and seamless cooperation exhibited by our office’s prosecution team and their law enforcement partners in North Dakota, across the country, and in Canada.”

Investigators seized nearly $1 million in cash and assets during the investigation, according to the DOJ.

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