United States Flag
Official Website of the Department of Homeland Security

Report Crimes: Email or Call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE


North Dakota man sentenced to 17 ½ years in federal prison in synthetic drug conspiracy

FARGO, N.D. — An eastern North Dakota man was sentenced in federal court Monday to 17 ½ years in prison for his role in a synthetic drug conspiracy that led to the death of two teenagers.

This sentence resulted from an investigation by the following agencies: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI), the Grand Forks (N.D.) Police Department, and the Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force.

Andrew Michael Spofford, 23, of Fargo, was sentenced to 210 months in federal prison for his involvement in a drug conspiracy with international ties that investigators titled "Operation Stolen Youth."

Spofford had previously pleaded guilty Oct. 29 to one count each of the following charges;

  • Conspiracy to possess drugs with intent to distribute;
  • Distributing an analogue-controlled substance resulting in serious bodily injury;
  • Distributing controlled substances and analogues resulting in serious bodily injury and death;
  • Distributing an analogue-controlled substance resulting in death;
  • Possessing an analogue-controlled substance with intent to distribute resulting in death; and
  • Causing the introduction into interstate commerce of a misbranded drug.

This conspiracy involved importing and distributing illegal synthetic hallucinogens through an online business called Motion Resources, which imported the drug from several countries and sold it throughout the United States. This investigation revealed Spofford and co-conspirator Adam Budge as the main suppliers in the Grand Forks area of the synthetic chemicals believed to have been the cause of two overdose deaths in June 2012. A 19- and a 17-year-old in the Grand Forks area died, and three other individuals were hospitalized, due to a suspected overdose of this substance. Budge was sentenced Feb. 27 to 136 months in prison to be followed by five year's supervised release.

This investigation to date has resulted in the arrest of 19 individuals, 20 indictments and 17 convictions. The defendants are from North Dakota, Minnesota, Texas, Mississippi; witness testimony has come from several other states. The chemicals were imported from China, Poland, India and the United Kingdom.

In addition to his prison term, Spofford is also ordered to serve three years' supervised release and to pay $425 special assessment to the Crime Victims Fund. While there is no parole in the federal prison system, defendants can earn up to 54 days per year off a federal sentence for good behavior. Spofford is expected to spend at least 14 years behind bars.