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UPDATED: Grand Forks man receives 20-year prison sentence in fentanyl overdose case

Ryan Jon Jensen

A Grand Forks man received a 20-year prison sentence Monday for his role in selling fentanyl that resulted in the overdose deaths of two Grand Forks residents.

Ryan Jon Jensen, 20, pleaded guilty Feb. 27 in U.S. District Court to two counts of distribution of a controlled substance resulting in serious bodily injury, one count of distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death, one count of money laundering conspiracy and one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances resulting in serious bodily injury or death.

In addition to 20 years in prison, Jensen faces five years of supervised release and must pay $17,264.93 in restitution for funeral expenses.

“This is a tragic case,” U.S. Attorney Chris Meyers said. “There are two kids dead and a number of kids were sent to the hospital from the poison this defendant was distributing in the city of Grand Forks. … It is not just a law enforcement problem, but a community problem that needs a community solution.”

Jensen’s sentencing is a result of Operation Denial, an international investigation that launched after two people from Grand Forks overdosed on fentanyl citrate, a synthetic opioid 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

Jensen 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.

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 Evan Henke, 18, died after overdosing Jan. 3 at a Grand Forks apartment.

According to a plea agreement, Jensen also admitted to having a leadership role in the conspiracy. The prosecution and the defense agreed Jensen’s crimes were more serious because he acted as a “manager, leader or supervisor.”

A criminal complaint filed against Jensen states:

Jensen told Grand Forks police he bought drugs from the online dark site Evolution and then sold the drugs from his bedroom.

The day before Henke died, Jensen received two packages in the mail containing 1 gram of fontanel citrate and 12 grams of heroin.

Jensen smoked powdered fontanel with Henke and at least two others. The two others -- Kain Daniel Schwandt and David Todd Noye Jr. -- have also been charged and sentenced.

Jameson Robert Sele, whom investigators say received Jensen’s mail at his Grand Forks address, was also charged and sentenced.

The complaint states Jensen gave investigators his login information to the website Evolution and from there, investigators found the Internet user from whom Jensen had bought the drugs -- Brandon Corde Hubbard. A plea hearing for Hubbard, Portland, Ore., is set for March 14 in Fargo.

The investigation has led to prison sentences for three other men charged in the conspiracy: Sele, 20, of Grand Forks, three years; Schwandt, 19, of Grand Forks, 42 months; and Noye, 18, of Grand Forks, 39 months.

Becky Jacobs

Becky Jacobs is the crime and courts reporter for the Herald.

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