Toronto: An American man has been sentenced to 33 years in prison for his role in an international fentanyl smuggling gang operating out of a Canadian prison.

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in a press release Published Thursday, the US Department of Justice announced that 40-year-old Steven Barros Pinto of Rhode Island would face 400 months in prison for various charges, including conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to commit money laundering, continuing criminal enterprise and interruption is involved. Justice.

The department said Pinto was part of a Rhode Island-based organization distributing fentanyl and fentanyl-like drugs from Canada and China.

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The announcement said one of Pinto’s key US-based partners in the campaign, 36-year-old Anthony Santos Gomes, was sentenced to prison on July 30.

The investigation into the drug-trafficking ring, known as “Operation Daniel”, began in January 2015 following the overdose death of 18-year-old Bailey Henke in Grand Forks, ND.

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US officials alleged that the venture involved distributing fentanyl and other similar substances from Canada and China to the United States, where some of those drugs resulted in 15 overdoses, with 11 seriously injured and four resulting in Fatal overdose occurred.

Since the start of the investigation, officials have filed charges against more than 30 individuals in the US, Canada and China for their involvement in the venture.

three of them Canadian, Jason Joy Berry, 38; Juan Kan Nguyen, 41; and Mary Um, 41, all from Quebec, were extradited from Canada to the United States earlier this year.

According to the US Department of Justice, he has been detained and is currently awaiting trial, scheduled for October 4, 2022.

In 2019, Berry and Nguyen’s alleged co-defendants, 41-year-old Colombian Daniel Vivas Cerrone, pleaded guilty to his role in operating an international fentanyl smuggling organization from a medium-security prison in Quebec. According to court documents, he arranged for a co-conspirator to conduct transactions in Canada and China through the use of money wire, bank wire, bank deposits and virtual currency systems.

Cerrone pleaded guilty to continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and grievous bodily injury and death as a result of controlled substance analogs, and money laundering.

Brian Benzakowski, assistant attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice’s criminal department, said at the time, “From a Canadian prison cell, Daniel Vivas Cerrone directed a deadly drug ring that fueled the opioid epidemic and killed four Americans. “

Cerrone was extradited to the US in 2017 and is facing a life sentence in prison.

In August 2021, the US State Department announced a reward of up to US$5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of 42-year-old China’s Zhang Jian, aka Hong Xaron, for allegedly leading an international fentanyl smuggling operation. announced the offer. .