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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Minnesota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 12, 2023

Two Detroit Men Sentenced to Prison for Fentanyl Trafficking Conspiracy on the Red Lake Reservation

MINNEAPOLIS – Two Detroit men have been sentenced to prison for their roles in a fentanyl trafficking operation targeting the Red Lake Reservation, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.

According to court documents, in March 2021, Douglas Edward McClendon, 32, and Christopher Douglas Richard, 41, conspired with others to distribute fentanyl pills, methamphetamine, and cocaine to individuals from the Red Lake Reservation. McClendon, Richard, and a third co-defendant Scot Lamont Watkins, 34, would obtain fentanyl and other drugs from suppliers in Detroit and then travel to Bemidji, Minnesota, to sell the drugs. In text messages between the defendants, Richard told his co-conspirators to come to Red Lake because there was “Hella money to be made” by selling fentanyl and emphasized that the reservation was “dry.”

According to court documents, the defendants conducted their drug distribution operation out of various Bemidji-area hotels. On March 2, 2021, law enforcement executed a search warrant at a hotel where the defendants were selling drugs. As a result of the search, law enforcement agents recovered more than 174 grams of fentanyl, 37 grams of methamphetamine, and other controlled substances. As law enforcement made entry into the hotel room, McClendon and Watkins fled while Richard flushed a significant amount of fentanyl down the toilet.

McClendon and Richard pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and other controlled substances. On September 7, 2022, Richard was sentenced to 60 months in prison and McClendon was sentenced yesterday to 63 months in prison. Both defendants were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nancy E. Brasel. Watkins remains a fugitive from law enforcement.  

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force, the FBI Headwaters Safe Trails Task Force, the Red Lake Tribal Police Department, and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura M. Provinzino and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Angelica Ramirez.

Topic(s): 
Indian Country Law and Justice
Drug Trafficking
Component(s): 
Updated January 12, 2023