Small Town News


Local residents tied to drug conspiracy

Turtle Mountain Star of Rolla, North Dakota

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Twenty-four people have been accused a conspiracy to distribute drugs from the rtle Mountain Indian Reservation. The case, known as Operation Paint by mbers, investigated large amounts of methamphetamine and marijuana which were moved from Washington. California and Mexico to the reservation for distribution, authorities said in a statement Friday.

Those indicted are Miguel Angel Chavez, Beatriz Guillen, Jose Rios, Alejandro Guillen, Donald Leroy Patrick, Gildardo Magana, Patrick Allen "Killer" Delorme, Joshua Patrick Delorme, Tamara Mae Gladue, Blaine Ernie "Botchy" Azure Jr., Brett Allen Hanlan, Cody Bruce Delong, Joey Ray Martin Lassonde, Patrick Lee "Dinks'" Allery. John Alexander Lenoir, Roger Selmer Phelps, and Cynthia Marie Gillis.

The indictment - states that, between January 2002 and August 2007, in North Dakota and elsewhere, the aforementioned "did knowingly and Intentionally combine, conspire, confederate, and agree together with Mark Todd Lenoir and Tricia Jo Livingston, Bernardo Rentana-Herrera, and Timothy Jon Phelps" as well as others, known and unknown to the grand jury, to possess with intent to distribute, as well as distribute in excess of 500 grams of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance, and marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance.

Chavez, and Beatriz Guillen were also charged with money laundering. Bank accounts were opened to deposit "drug proceeds," as well as to transfer money from North Dakota to "various bank accounts in the state of Washington"' and to wire money from these proceeds to individuals in Washington and Mexico. Members of the conspiracy also used false identities to transfer currency, as well as to deposit and withdraw money from these accounts. The banks were located in Fargo, Minot, Grand Forks, and Bismarck, and the transactions ranged from $215 to $4,000. On July 1. July 10, and November 30, 2006, MoneyGrams were sent from Belcourt to Hermiston, Oregon. Colima, Mexico, and Kennewick, Washington, respectively. The amounts of the MoneyGrams ranged from $700 to $1,900.

According to Chris Myers, assistant U.S. Attorney, who is prosecuting the case, many of the twenty-four people indicted have made their initial appearance in court. Rentana-Herrera was sentenced on June 12, 2007. while Timothy Phelps was sentenced on July 19, 2007. Last Thursday, January 29, nine appeared and pled not guilty in the U.S. District Court in Fargo.

Myers added that he could not divulge more facts about the case.

Related to this issue is Carletta Bercier, 25, of Belcourt, who pled guilty to witness tampering in Operation Paint By Numbers.

Bercier was charged with intimidation or force against a witness after a complaint was filed saying that Bercier used physical force and threats in an attempt to stop another woman from testifying in the case. Her sentencing is scheduled for April 8.

Bercier faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a 5250,000 fine.

Original Publication Date: February 2, 2009

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