One of the Grand Forks men charged in federal court in connection to a drug distribution conspiracy pleaded guilty last week to all five drug-related counts.
Ryan Jon Jensen, 20, admitted to conspiring to distribute narcotics, including ecstasy, fentanyl and heroin, in North Dakota and Oregon, leading to injury of three people and the death of two, according to a plea agreement that was unsealed Wednesday morning.
The five are identified by their initials: E.D.P., J.A.Z., D.T.N., B.E.H. and J.J.N.
Evan Daniel Poitra, 19, was found dead at his Grand Forks home of an apparent drug overdose on July 16. Bailey Evans Henke, 18, died after overdosing on powdered fentanyl Jan. 3 at a Grand Forks apartment.
Jensen also admitted to having a leadership role in the conspiracy, according to the plea agreement.
As part of the plea agreement, the prosecution and the defense agreed Jensen's crimes were more serious because he acted as a "manager, leader or supervisor."
Jensen also pleaded guilty to three counts of distributing a controlled substance resulting in serious bodily injury or death, thereby admitting he was the source of the fentanyl that J.A.Z., D.T.N. and B.E.H. overdosed on, with B.E.H. fatally overdosing.
Money laundering was the fifth and final offense Jensen pleaded guilty to.
The charge alleges he and others "paid for the controlled substances by conducting numerous financial transactions using the bitcoin virtual currency system" and in that way, tried to hide the trail of money from their drug transactions.
The fact that Jensen admitted guilt days after charges were filed will count in his favor, seeing as it shows "a genuine acceptance of responsibility," the plea agreement says.
Jensen faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
He is scheduled to be sentenced at 11 a.m., May 20, in U.S. District Court in Fargo.
Three other Grand Forks men have been named in connection to the conspiracy: Joshua Tyler Fulp, 20, David Todd Noye Jr., 18, and Kain Daniel Schwandt, 18.
Jensen was taken off electronic home monitoring — on which he was serving a one-year jail term for driving under the influence — Jan. 3 and booked into the Grand Forks County jail hours after Henke was found unresponsive in an apartment in the southeastern end of town.
Jensen reportedly admitted to police he gave Schwandt heroin and powdered fentanyl the night prior, according to court records.