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Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald, Published November 06 2012

Feds charge 11th in Grand Forks drug ring

FARGO — An 11th person charged in the Grand Forks-based synthetic drug ring blamed in the deaths of two teenagers pleaded guilty Monday in federal court here in a deal with prosecutors.

Dillon John Breen, 25, of Grand Forks, admitted he conspired with Andrew Spofford and others to distribute hallucinogens made by Spofford, including the two drugs blamed in the deaths of Christian Bjerk, 18, and Elijah Stai, 17, in June, according to Chris Myers, the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case.

The several synthetic drugs Breen admitted dealing included LSD-like hallucinogens, and their chemically similar “analogues,” which were marketed as “acid,” and drugs known as DOC and DOM, often called “ecstasy.” He also admitted distributing large amounts of cocaine and marijuana with others from January 2011 until June of this year.

He faced a possible sentence of 20 years and a $1 million fine.

Under the plea deal, Myers said he will recommend a lesser sentence, based on Breen’s criminal history, the amount of drugs involved and his cooperation in the case.

In setting Breen’s sentencing for Feb. 4, U.S. Judge Ralph Erickson told him the court isn’t bound by the plea deal.

Broad investigation

Breen was arrested twice earlier this year in Grand Forks near UND’s campus and charged with possessing and dealing drugs. The charges were dropped, in one case for lack of evidence and in the other because of the larger federal case.

After Bjerk and Stai ingested Spofford-made hallucinogens June 11 and June 13, respectively, and then died, federal prosecutors began a wide-ranging investigation that so far has led to 11 people charged.

Spofford, the admitted “hobby chemist” who said he made and sold hallucinogens through a group of at least 10 others, pleaded guilty a week ago in a deal with prosecutors.

Spofford admitted obtaining chemicals from Europe, India and China, as well as a source in Houston, which he used to make the hallucinogens.

Of the 11 people charged so far, only two have not pleaded guilty in pre-trial deals with prosecutors, and they are expected to also seek deals.

Myers says the investigation remains open.