FARGO – United States Attorney Mac Schneider, District of North Dakota, along with United States Attorney Natalie K. Wight, District of Oregon, and Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, announced that Jason Joey Berry, age 40, Cornwall, Ontario, was sentenced by Chief District Court Judge Peter Welte, to 24 years imprisonment, 5 years supervised release, $200.00 special assessment and $11,048.43 in restitution for his role in ‘Operation Denial’.
Berry was extradited from Canada to the United States on January 6, 2021, with significant assistance from the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.
On July 29, 2022, Berry pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Import Controlled Substances and Controlled Substance Analogues Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury and Death. As part of that plea, Berry acknowledged working with Daniel Vivas Ceron in running an international fentanyl and fentanyl analogue distribution operation from inside Drummond Correctional Institution in Drummondville, Quebec. Vivas Ceron is scheduled for sentencing on July 25, 2023, in Fargo.
This case is part of “Operation Denial,” an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation into the international trafficking of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues and was significantly aided by the national and international coordination led by the multi-agency Special Operations Division (S.O.D.) near Washington, DC, as part of “Operation Deadly Merchant.” The investigation started in North Dakota on January 3, 2015, with the overdose death in Grand Forks, ND, of Bailey Henke.
Operation Denial has led to thirty-one (31) defendants charged in North Dakota and three (3) defendants charged in Oregon. The investigation has resulted in nearly one million in cash and property forfeited from members of the organization.
On August 31, 2021, the U.S. Department of State offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of People’s Republic of China (PRC) national Jian Zhang, a fugitive in this transnational investigation.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation; U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; IRS Criminal Investigation – Fargo Field Office; Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force; Royal Canadian Mounted Police; Portland Oregon Police Bureau – Drugs and Vice Division, Portland HIDTA Interdiction Task Force; Oregon State Police; and the Grand Forks Police Department.
The prosecutors for this case are Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher C. Myers, District of North Dakota; Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Kerin, District of Oregon and as a Special Assistant U.S Attorney in North Dakota; and Kaitlin Sahni, Assistant Deputy Chief and Imani Hutty, Trial Attorney, Criminal Division Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section of the Justice Department.