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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 27, 2018

Four Additional Chinese Nationals and Six Additional U.S. Residents Indicted in North Dakota in International Drug and Money Laundering Conspiracy Involving Opioids

Total of 28 Charged With Conspiracy to Distribute Fetanyl and Other Lethal Drugs Resulting in Deaths and Injury

Na Chu, 37; Yeyou Chu, 36; Cuiying Liu, 62; and Keping Zhang, 62, all Chinese nationals, were charged by a superseding indictment returned on Jan. 18, with international money laundering conspiracy, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, U.S. Attorney Christopher C. Myers for the District of North Dakota and Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division announced today.

 

The charges come 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 multi-agency Special Operations Division (S.O.D.) near Washington D.C. as part of “Operation Deadly Merchant.” The investigation started in North Dakota on Jan. 3, 2015, with the overdose death in Grand Forks of 18-year-old Bailey Henke.

 

“Fentanyl and its analogues killed more Americans than any other drug in 2016, and the vast majority of it comes from China,” said Attorney General Sessions.  “The defendants in this case allegedly trafficked fentanyl from China to 11 states from coast to coast.  As a result, Americans died in at least three states.  I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in North Dakota and Oregon, the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, DEA, HSI, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigations, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and dozens more law enforcement officers across the United States and Canada who helped make these indictments possible.  Today’s indictments are a step toward dismantling an alleged international fentanyl trafficking operation and eventually ending this nation’s unprecedented drug crisis.”

 

Additional defendants previously charged in this superseding indictment with drug trafficking conspiracy include Jian Zhang, aka Hong Kong Zaron, 39, of China; Jason Joey Berry, aka Daniel Desnoyers, 35, of Quebec, Canada; Anthony Santos Gomes, aka Ant, 33, of Davie, Florida; Elizabeth Ton, aka Lisa Gomes, 26, of Davie, Florida; Xuan Cahn Nguyen, aka Jackie and Jackie Chan 38, of Quebec Canada; Marie Um, aka Angry Bird, 37, of Quebec, Canada; Vannek Um, 40, of Quebec, Canada; and Linda Van, 25, of Quebec, Canada.

 

In a separate indictment returned on March 22, Steven Barros Pinto, aka Yeaboy, 36, of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute controlled substances and controlled substance analogues resulting in serious bodily injury and death, conspiracy to import controlled substances and controlled substance analogues into the United States resulting in serious bodily injury and death, continuing criminal enterprise, and a forfeiture allegation.

 

Additional defendants charged in this indictment with drug trafficking conspiracy include: Louis Felix Bell, 30, of West Palm Beach, Florida; Amanda Renee Schneider, 27, of West Palm Beach; Danny Silva Gamboa, 21, of Pawtucket, Rhode Island; Robinson Andres Gomez, aka Rob, 25, of Pineville, North Carolina; and Keveen Odair Nobre, aka Young Money, 28, of Pawtucket.

 

Additional defendants charged in Federal court as a result of this investigation include:

 

District of North Dakota

 

  • Daniel Vivas Ceron, 37, of Colombia – awaiting trial currently set for Sept. 11;
  • Jameson Robert Sele, 23, Grand Forks, North Dakota, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and was sentenced on July 27, 2015 to 36 months in prison;
  • Ryan Jon Jensen, 23, of Grand Forks, 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, distribution of a controlled substance resulting in serious bodily injury and money laundering conspiracy.  He was sentenced on Feb. 2, 2016 to serve 20 years in prison;
  • David Todd Noye Jr., 21, of Grand Forks, pleaded guilty on May 4, 2015 to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and was sentenced on Jan. 25, 2016 to three years and three months in prison;
  • Joshua Tyler Fulp, 23, of Grand Forks, pleaded guilty on June 23, 2015 to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances resulting in serious bodily injury and death and was sentenced to 12 years in prison;
  • Kain Daniel Schwandt, 21, of Grand Forks, pleaded guilty on July 24, 2015 to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and was sentenced on Jan. 25, 2016 to three years and six months in prison;
  • Brandon Corde Hubbard, 43, of Portland, Oregon was indicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances resulting in serious bodily injury and death, distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death and money laundering conspiracy and was sentenced on July 13, 2016 to life in prison;
  • Ronnie Lee Helms, 33, of Acworth, Georgia pleaded guilty on March 1, 2017 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of a controlled substance and controlled substance analogues resulting in serious bodily injury and death. Sentencing is set for Oct. 1; and
  • Braden James Foley, 31, of Olympia, Washington pleaded guilty on Aug. 11, 2016 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of a controlled substance and was sentenced on Nov. 21, 2016 to 30 months in prison.

 

District of Oregon

 

  • Channing Lacey, 30, of Portland, Oregon, pleaded guilty on March 28, 2017 to one count of distribution of a controlled substance resulting in serious bodily injury to three individuals and one count of distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death and was sentenced to 135 months in prison;
  • Carissa Marie Laprall, 26, of Portland, pleaded guilty on March 28, 2017 to three counts of distribution of a controlled substance resulting in serious bodily injury. Sentencing is set for Jan. 14, 2019; and
  • Steven Fairbanks Locke, 42, of Portland, pleaded guilty on June 14, 2017 to use of a communication facility to facilitate a drug offense. Sentencing is set for Oct. 29.

 

These cases are being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force; Royal Canadian Mounted Police; Portland, Oregon, Police Bureau – Drugs and Vice Division; Portland HIDTA Interdiction Task Force; Oregon State Police and the Grand Forks Police Department.  The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

 

U.S. Attorney Christopher C. Myers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Kerin for the District of Oregon and Trial Attorney Adrienne Rose of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic & Dangerous Drug Section are prosecuting the cases.

 

An indictment is merely an accusation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Topic(s): 
Opioids
Press Release Number: 
18-545
Updated April 27, 2018