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Oregon man says he will plead guilty to dealing fentany

By DAVE KOLPACK
Of the Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. — An Oregon man who allegedly told investigators he was perhaps the biggest dealer of powdered fentanyl in the United States has agreed to plead guilty to selling drugs that led to several overdoses in North Dakota and elsewhere.

Brandon Hubbard, of Portland, Oregon, signed a deal Monday that calls for him to plead guilty to three counts, including selling the powerful synthetic drug that killed a Grand Forks man. Hubbard faces life in prison without parole.

Hubbard's attorney, Jeff Bredahl, did not respond to numerous emails from The Associated Press seeking comment about the case. U.S. Attorney Chris Myers declined to comment Tuesday, but has said that others could be brought to North Dakota to face charges.

“This remains a very active national and international investigation,” Myers said in a statement earlier this month. “Our multi-national investigative team is committed to identifying the full scope of harm caused by this international conspiracy.”

The investigation into the drug ring began with the January death of 18-year-old Bailey Henke, of Grand Forks. It led authorities to identify 12 overdose victims in North Dakota, North Carolina and Oregon. Four of them died and eight suffered serious injuries.

Hubbard, 40, told agents that he placed an order with a Canadian source for fentanyl citrate in November 2014, and that the drugs were delivered in FedEx packages from China. Hubbard said he bought about $1.5 million worth of the drugs in that November alone. Investigators said Hubbard told them he knew fentanyl was extremely powerful and could easily cause an overdose or kill someone.

Hubbard also plans to plead guilty to dealing heroin, ecstasy, Xanax and marijuana, according to the agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Fargo.

Authorities said the ring also involved a Colombian man accused of trafficking the deadly substances while serving a prison stint in Canada. Daniel Vivas Ceron, 34, allegedly operated a business that moved fentanyl and other similar substances from Canada and China into the United States. He was arrested in July in Panama City, Panama, and is awaiting extradition.

Two other men were arrested this month in Georgia and Washington on drug-distribution charges. In North Dakota, five Grand Forks residents — all between the ages of 18 and 20 — have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute charges.

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