GRAND FORKS, N.D. (Valley News Live) 3 people connected to a drug conspiracy case and murder investigation in Grand Forks have been sentenced in federal court.
27-Year-old Aaron Morado of Grand Forks will serve 7 ½ years in prison and 26-year-old Daniel Rodriguez Jr. from Crookston, Minnesota will serve 7 years for conspiracy to distribute and distributing drugs.
34-year-old Christopher Ringsrud-Knowles of Arvilla, ND was sentenced to 4 years and 2 months in jail for evidence tampering.
This case came to the attention of law enforcement after the shooting death of Austin Forsman at the Flying J truck stop in Grand Forks on March 11th 2016.
The murder investigation quickly resulted in the unraveling of a large methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy operating in the Red River Valley.
The investigation resulted in thirteen people being charged in Federal Court.
Morado and Rodriguez were identified as the “street-level distributors” of meth.
Co-defendant Krystal Feist pled guilty on February 27th 2017, to a number of charges including, murder and the use of a firearm.
Feist is scheduled for sentencing August 9th in Fargo.
As part of her plea, Feist admitted to shooting Austin Forsman with a shotgun upon the request of another co-conspirator; the motive for the murder was the result of a dispute arising out of the drug trafficking conspiracy.
Ringsrud-Knowles wasn't involved in the murder, but admitted to breaking down the shotgun and throwing it into a river after the murder.
Law enforcement was able to retrieve the shotgun from the river.
Co-defendants Modesto Torrez and Lori Ortiz are each scheduled for a Change of Plea Hearing on June 15th, 2017 in Fargo.
Co-defendant Ryan Franklin is currently scheduled for jury trial on June 5th 2017, in Fargo.
Co-defendants Vaughn Scott, Christopher Anderson, Andrew Wiley and Andrew Hills, have pleaded guilty for their role in the drug conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing, currently scheduled for June 19th 2017.
The following defendants were previously sentenced for their role in the drug conspiracy:
• Darla Kay Jerome -sentenced to two (2) years and seven (7) months.
• Walter Joseph Ganyo - sentenced to seven (7) years.
This case is being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security - Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force.