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Justice News

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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Texas Leader of Synthetic Drug Ring Sentenced for His Role in the Deaths of Grand Forks Area Teenagers

FARGO - U. S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on Aug. 28, 2014, Charles William Carlton, 29, Katy, Texas, was sentenced before U. S. District Judge Ralph R. Erickson to serve 20 years and six months in prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of controlled substances and controlled substance analogues resulting in serious bodily injury or death, introduction and delivery of a misbranded drug and money laundering.

On June 11, 2012, Grand Forks, N.D. Police Department responded to a call of a male lying on a sidewalk. Upon arrival they found 18-year-old Christian Bjerk dead from an overdose. A few blocks away officers found two other males, 18-year-old Wesley Sweeney and a 15-year-old male also disorientating and hallucinating. Both were taken to a local hospital.

Two days later on June 13, 2014, law enforcement would once again respond to a call for service as Elijah Stai, 17-years-old had stopped breathing and ultimately died from a drug overdose. It was determined that both overdoses resulted from ingesting N-(2-methoxybenzyl)-4-iodo-2, 5-dimethoxyphenethlylamine also known as 2CI-NBOMe.

For the first time ever, Drug Enforcement Agency - Drug Classification Section officially determined that these drugs were analogues of a Schedule I controlled substance 2, 5-Dimethoxy-4bromopheethlamine, also known as 2C-B, which is known to be very powerful and dangerous. U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon, in conjunction with local law enforcement, immediately warned the public about the potential dangers of these substances.

The investigation revealed that the conspiracy involved the distribution of many illegal analogue controlled substances through an online business called Motion Resources that imported the illegal substances from several countries and sold them throughout the United States.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Myers said, “In response to the tragic deaths of two young people from our community, the response of local, state and Federal law enforcement was remarkable. Within 60 days, they identified and dismantled an international drug trafficking organization and undoubtedly saved lives. The 15 defendants that were held accountable for their roles in this case hopefully will provide a measure of justice for the families of Christian Bjerk and Elijah Stai. However, the fact remains that in this case the distribution of drugs resulted in the death of two young kids and affected a countless number of lives - sadly once again, the circumstances in this case forcefully rebut the tiresome argument that dealing drugs is a victimless crime.”

Judge Erickson also sentenced Carlton to three of years of supervised release and a $300 special assessment to be paid to the Crime Victims Fund. Carlton was also ordered to forfeit $385,000 in proceeds related to Motion Resources.

“Not only is a criminal going to prison for his crimes, but the government has seized a significant portion of the illegal proceeds through asset forfeiture,” stated Special Agent in Charge Kelly R. Jackson of the St. Paul Field Office. “The role of IRS Criminal Investigation in narcotics investigations is to follow the money so we can financially disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations. One of the government's most powerful weapons is the ability to seize through asset forfeiture the assets associated with narcotics-related crimes. IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to provide its financial expertise as we work alongside our law enforcement partners to bring criminals to justice"

“Today’s sentence concludes an extensive investigation and demonstrates the continued commitment of FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations and its law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue those who sell unapproved and harmful products over the internet that threaten the public health. Unfortunately, in this case there were deadly consequences and the perpetrators of this crime have been punished accordingly. FDA takes its responsibility to protect the health and safety of the US consumer very seriously,” said Special Agent-in-Charge John J. Redmond of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, Chicago Field Office.

Throughout the investigation, “Operation Stolen Youth” uncovered 14 other defendants in connection with Carlton. Five of those defendants also pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute analogue controlled substance resulting in death. The sentences for the other defendants are as follows:

Casey Rosen -Minneapolis, Minn. 20 years
Andrew Spofford- Fargo, N.D. 17.5 years
Wesley Sweeney- Manvel, N.D. 12.5 years
Adam Budge- Grand Forks, N.D. 11.3 years
John Polinski- Houston, Texas 11 years
Peter Hoistad- Grand Forks, N.D. 8 years
Ryan Lane- East Grand Forks, Minn. 5 years
William Fox- Grand Forks, N.D. 4 years
Byron Landry- Kiln, Miss. 40 months
Stephen Bucher- Bemidji, Minn. 36 months
Ron Norling- Grand Forks, N.D. 27 months
Dilion Breen - Grand Forks, N.D. 16 months
Scott Anthony- Grand Forks, N.D. 15 months
Allyson Desantos- Grand Forks, N.D. Probation

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration, Food and Drug Administration, Internal Revenue Service, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and Grand Forks Police Department.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Myers prosecuted the cases.

Updated February 4, 2015