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Park River man sentenced to 15 years for fentanyl sale linked to fatal overdose

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Zachary David Chyle2 / 2

FARGO -- A Park River, N.D., man who pleaded guilty to selling fentanyl tied to a fatal overdose last August was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison Monday.

Zachary David Chyle, 26, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson on one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and one count of distribution of a controlled substance analogue resulting in death.

Chyle admitted to selling furanyl fentanyl, a powerful opioid known to be up to 50 times more potent than heroin, to Eugene D. Mecham, court records show. Mecham died of an overdose on Aug. 26, 2016, in the basement of his parents’ home in Grafton, N.D. He was 30. An autopsy showed Mecham’s death was caused by fentanyl intoxication.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said its investigation found Chyle had ordered the drugs from the Dark Net, a term used to describe online networks often used to sell black market goods.

Chyle was arrested in October 2016 by the Walsh County Sheriff’s Office after a drug overdose of his own.

Deputies responded Aug. 23, 2016, to 13000 block of Highway 17 in Park River. Chyle's father, Jim Chyle, told deputies he and his wife found his son "unconscious and barely breathing with a needle in his arm," according to court documents. Jim Chyle told officers he administered Narcan to Zachary Chyle twice, with court documents explaining Jim Chyle had purchased the overdose antidote because of his son's drug use.

Zachary Chyle was taken to Unity Medical Center in Grafton for treatment instead of going to jail. He was arrested in early October 2016.

Chyle has a criminal history involving drugs, theft and burglary, according to court records. He was on probation for a 2013 burglary charge at the time of his arrest.

The probation allowed investigators to search Chyle's belongings, and officers found 38 syringes, 88 baggies and four brown 100-milligram vials investigators believe contained fentanyl.

Several days after the overdose, the Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force also searched the Park River residence and vehicles there. A laptop that Zachary Chyle said he drilled a hole into and put in a bucket of water was seized, investigators said.

An officer said he has "reason to believe that within said (laptop) is data evidencing narcotics trafficking."

Chlye will be on five years of supervised release following his time in prison, and will pay $7,894 toward restitution and $200 toward the federal crime victim’s fund. He faced a possible life sentence before entering into a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in February.

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