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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of North Dakota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Colombian National Charged in ND with Operating a Continuing Criminal Enterprise from Canadian Prison

FARGO - Acting United States Attorney Christopher C. Myers announced today that on July 17, 2015, Daniel Vivas Ceron, 34, of Colombia, was taken into custody in Panama City, Panama in connection with an indictment from the District of North Dakota charging him with: (1) Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances and Controlled Substance Analogues Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury and Death; (2) Conspiracy to Import Controlled Substances and Controlled Substance Analogues in to the United States Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury and Death; (3) Aiding and Abetting the Distribution of a Controlled Substance Resulting in Death (4) Money Laundering Conspiracy and (5) Continuing Criminal Enterprise.

Vivas Ceron appeared in a Panamanian court on July 20th, 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 lead 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 January 3, 2015 with the overdose death in Grand Forks of 18-year-old Bailey Henke.

The indictment alleges Vivas 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 those drugs resulted in serious bodily injury and death. If convicted, Vivas Ceron faces a maximum of sentence of life in prison.

Acting U.S. Attorney Chris Myers stated: “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. 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.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams, District of Oregon, added: “The illegal distribution of fentanyl, as the number of drug overdoses tied to this investigation show, has wreaked havoc across the country. 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 in this investigation include:
District of North Dakota
1. Jameson Robert Sele, 20, Grand Forks, North Dakota – Plead guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances and was sentenced on 7/27/15 to 36 months imprisonment.
2. Ryan Jon Jensen, 20, Grand Forks, North Dakota – Plead guilty on 2/27/15 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. Currently awaiting sentencing.
3. David Todd Noye Jr., 18, Grand Forks, North Dakota – Plead guilty on 5/4/15 to Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances. Currently awaiting sentencing.
4. Joshua Tyler Fulp, 20, Grand Forks, North Dakota – Plead guilty on 6/23/15 to Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury and Death and Money Laundering Conspiracy. Currently awaiting sentencing.
5. Kain Daniel Schwandt, 19, Grand Forks, North Dakota - Plead guilty on 7/24/15 to Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances. Currently awaiting sentencing.
6. Brandon Corde Hubbard, 40, Portland, Oregon - 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 September 15, 2015.

District of Oregon
1. Steven Fairbanks Locke – Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance. Trial set for September 15, 2015.
2. Channing Lacey – Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury; Distribution of a Controlled Substance Resulting in Death; Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute. Trial set for September 22, 2015.
3. Carissa Marie Laprall - 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 September 22, 2015.

This case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration, United States 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.

Acting United States Attorney Christopher C. Myers and AUSA Scott Schneider are prosecuting the cases in North Dakota. AUSA Scott Kerin is prosecuting the cases in the District of Oregon and will be assisting as a Special Assistant U.S Attorney (SAUSA) in North Dakota as the investigation moves forward.

An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Topic(s): 
Prescription Drugs
Component(s): 
Updated July 28, 2015