FARGO-A Colombian national accused of being the ringleader of an international drug operation related to a fatal fentanyl overdose in Grand Forks also faces pending charges in Canada.
Daniel Vivas Ceron pleaded not guilty to five federal charges related to shipping drugs into the U.S. from China and Canada, where the drugs, including a mixture with fentanyl, ultimately were distributed in Grand Forks, Fargo and Portland, Ore., according to court documents. Using initials only, prosecutors identified four victims from Portland as well as Bailey Henke, 18, of Grand Forks, who died of a fentanyl overdose in early January 2015. Eleven other defendants also have been indicted or sentenced in the drug ring.
Vivas Ceron appeared Monday, Jan. 30, in Fargo's federal court, where Judge Alice Senechal scheduled an April 4 jury trial. Prosecutors estimated the trial will last eight to 10 days.
Last week, Vivas Ceron was extradited on a federal warrant from Panama to North Dakota after his arrest in the Central American country in July 2016.
Vivas Ceron faces federal conspiracy charges accusing him of distributing drugs resulting in death, money laundering and operating a criminal enterprise.
The North Dakota charges are the only ones that appear in the U.S.’s federal court system, but Brian Toay, Vivas Ceron’s court-appointed attorney, asked the court to waive his defendant’s detention hearing due to a prior conviction in Canada that prohibits him from being in the U.S. Prosecutors said Vivas Ceron operated the drug ring since being incarcerated in a medium-security prison in Quebec.
Vivas Ceron is being held at the Cass County jail.