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Archie Ingersoll, Published April 30 2009

Three charged in Red River Valley cocaine conspiracy

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Three men accused of running cocaine from Mexico and Texas to the Red River Valley have pleaded not guilty in federal court.

Armando Rodriguez-Perez, 34, and Daniel Villareal, 28, entered pleas Wednesday in Grand Forks; Rufino Pruneda, 32, did so Tuesday.

According to an indictment:

- Pruneda dealt about 114 grams of cocaine base in Grand Forks on Oct. 31, 2008.

- Pruneda and Villareal distributed about 226 grams of cocaine base in Grand Forks on Nov. 4, 2008.

- Pruneda and Rodriguez-Perez possessed 4 kilograms of a mixture containing cocaine with intent to distribute it on Feb. 13, 2009.

Cocaine base is a form of the drug that can be smoked.

Pruneda faces four drug-related charges, while Rodriguez-Perez and Villareal each face two.

The crimes took place in North Dakota, Minnesota and elsewhere from January 2008 to February 2009, according to the indictment.

Prosecutor Janice Morley said she expects a trial would last five days. The trial has been set to start June 29.

The Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald and The Forum are both owned by Forum Communications Co.