FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Federal court documents accuse a Portland, Oregon, man of running a drug pipeline that stretched to Canada and China and led to the January overdose death of a man in North Dakota.

Brandon Hubbard, 40, sold the powerful synthetic drug powdered fentanyl through an encrypted website that wound up killing 18-year-old Bailey Henke, of Grand Forks, according to a federal affidavit filed earlier this week in Oregon.

Hubbard is facing several charges, including conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances resulting in death. He has not yet appeared in federal court in North Dakota. Hubbard's federal public defender in Oregon, Ruben Iniguez, declined comment, as did federal prosecutors in North Dakota.

Investigators say Hubbard admitted to his involvement in the "large scale distribution" of fentanyl and bought about $1.5 million worth of the narcotics in November alone. He allegedly sold fentanyl and heroin from that stash to Ryan Jensen, 20, of Grand Forks.

Jensen smoked powdered fentanyl with Henke and two others while playing video games in Jensen's bedroom on the night Henke died, according to the affadivit. Another man who bought fentanyl from Jensen that night required medical attention.

The investigation into Henke's death led agents to the website Evolution, which is only accessible through a router designed to conceal a user's location, Internet usage and identity. The website was configured to appear similar to legitimate online stores, but sold narcotics, drug paraphernalia, stolen credit card information, counterfeit currency and weapons. All transactions were required to be conducted using the Bitcoin virtual currency system, which investigators say was meant to conceal the drug trafficking operation.

Agents say they were able to locate Hubbard's vendor page, which advertised the sale of fentanyl citrate, the salt form of the drug. A search warrant of Hubbard's apartment in Portland yielded 100 grams of fentanyl citrate, scales, packaging materials, mailing envelopes and an undisclosed amount of money, documents show.

The affidavit says Hubbard told agents that in November he placed an order with a Canadian source for fentanyl citrate and the drugs were delivered in FedEx packages from China. The packages were delivered to Steven Locke Jr., of Woodland, Washington, and then eventually sold by Hubbard to Jensen, according to the affidavit.

Locke has pleaded not guilty to a drug conspiracy charge. His lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

Investigators say Hubbard told them he knew fentanyl was extremely powerful and could easily cause an overdose or kill someone.

 

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