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Dave Kolpack, Associated Press, Published August 31 2012

UPDATED: ND man pleads guilty in synthetic drug overdose

FARGO – A North Dakota high school student pleaded guilty Friday for his role in a synthetic drug ring that has resulted in a handful of apparent overdoses and two deaths.

Wesley Sweeney, 18, of Manvel, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of conspiracy to distribute drugs that resulted in death. He is one of a handful of people charged in the wide-ranging case that spans local, state and federal jurisdictions.

Christian Bjerk, 18, of Grand Forks, and Elijah Stai, 17, of Park Rapids, Minn., died of apparent overdoses within a week.

Authorities believe they received the same batch of hallucinogens that were cooked up in the Grand Forks area.

Sweeney is accused of supplying drugs to Bjerk, who ingested a drug that was “sold as acid,” federal prosecutor Chris Myers said Friday.

“That consumption resulted in death of Christian Bjerk in the early morning hours of June 11,” Myers said.

Sweeney supplied drugs to another teenager who spent several days in a critical care unit after an overdose, Myers said.

Sweeney faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years in prison, but U.S. District Ralph Erickson said a plea agreement could result in a lesser sentence. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 26.

Authorities believe that Andrew Spofford, 22, manufactured the drugs by mixing chemicals ordered through the mail. Spofford is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances but has not been indicted by a grand jury.

Spofford allegedly told police he was a “hobby chemist.”

Spofford’s roommate, William Fox, pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to a drug conspiracy charge. Fox, 24, faces up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 20.

Adam Budge, 19, of East Grand Forks, Minn., is charged in Minnesota court with third-degree murder and manslaughter for allegedly supplying the drugs that led to Stai’s death. Myers said Friday that Budge stole some of the drugs from Spofford’s house.


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