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Press Release

Fort Collins Man Sentenced for Distributing Fentanyl Resulting in Death

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Colorado

DENVER – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announces that Ernesto Ibarra Jr., age 45, of Fort Collins, was sentenced to 175 months in federal prison for distributing fentanyl resulting in death.  After his term of incarceration, Ibarra will have three years on supervised release.

According to the plea agreement, on September 26, 2017, police and emergency medical services responded to a home in Fort Collins and found a man deceased on a bathroom floor.  Next to the man, police found a syringe, a spoon with liquid and what appeared to be a partially dissolved blue pill, and another fully intact pill, which was round and blue, bore the imprints “M” and “30,” and resembled a prescription oxycodone pill.  The Office of the Larimer County Coroner/Medical Examiner determined the man died from “acute fentanyl toxicity.”  The two blue pills found at the scene were submitted for laboratory analysis and, despite the imprint, color, and shape of the intact blue pill being consistent with prescription oxycodone, the lab determined the only controlled substance in both pills was fentanyl.

A thorough investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Fort Collins Police Services revealed Ibarra sold the man the fentanyl pills which resulted in his death.  Ibarra used Facebook to communicate with the man and sold him pills which appeared to be prescription opioids several times in the days leading up to the man’s death, including the transaction for the lethal fentanyl pills the day before the man was found dead.

In the plea agreement, Ibarra also admitted to dealing pills to a second man who also died of a fentanyl overdose approximately two days after buying pills from Ibarra.  However, in that instance, the evidence was not sufficient to prove the defendant dealt the fentanyl which killed the second man.

“Fentanyl pills disguised as prescription drugs are pervasive and leading to an unprecedented number of overdose deaths,” said U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan. “Even one pill containing fentanyl can end a life.  Please stay away from any pill that you haven’t obtained directly from a pharmacist.  Your life depends on it.” 

“The FBI is focused on building safe communities and keeping them free of dangerous drug trafficking,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael H. Schneider. “This sentence reflects the dedicated efforts of law enforcement and the determination with which we are investigating, disrupting and deterring the distribution of illegal and potentially deadly drugs into our neighborhoods. We are grateful to the Fort Collins Police Services and the U.S. Attorney's Office for their partnership and collaboration in this investigation.”

United States District Court Chief Judge Philip A. Brimmer sentenced Ibarra on February 18, 2022.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Fort Collins Police Services conducted the investigation.  Assistant United States Attorney Peter McNeilly handled the prosecution of the case.

Case number:  19-cr-074

Updated February 25, 2022

Drug Trafficking