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Texas man pleads guilty in deadly Grand Forks drug case

A Texas man accused of heading a synthetic drug trafficking operation blamed for two area deaths pleaded guilty Monday in Fargo, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Charles William Carlton, 29, of Katy, Texas, pleaded guilty to money laundering and several drug charges including distribution of a controlled substance resulting in serious bodily injury or death.

The charges could put him behind bars for life if convicted. Carlton will be sentenced by Judge Ralph Erickson on May 27 in U.S. District Court in Fargo.

Accused of the being the drug ring’s leader, Carlton owned an online business, Motion Resources, which was used to import drugs from several countries and sell them in the United States.

The alleged dealing began January 2011 and went on as recently as August 2013, according to the federal indictment against Carlton.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Myers, the case’s prosecutor, did not respondMonday to requests for comment but has told the Herald in the past Carlton’s drug dealing led to the death two local teenagers and caused serious harm to least three other people.

Christian Bjerk, 18, and Elijah Stai, 17, died from overdoses of the synthetic drug in June 2012.

Carlton is the 15th defendant charged as part of the investigation, prosecution and dismantling of the drug organization — an effort called “Operation Stolen Youth.”

Of those connected to the operation who have been sentences, the punishments range from three years probation to 12½ years in prison.