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Co-leader of drug conspiracy sentenced in North Dakota to 16 years in prison

FARGO, N.D. — A Minnesota man was sentenced in federal court Monday to 16 years in prison for his leadership role in a drug conspiracy that stretched from Texas to the North Dakota and Minnesota border.

This sentence resulted from a criminal investigation by the following agencies: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigations, the Cass County (N.D.) Drug Task Force and the police departments of Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn.

David Ramiro Cerna Jr., 37, of Moorhead, was sentenced to serve 16 years in prison for aiding and abetting a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamines and marijuana.

This conspiracy involved transporting and distributing large quantities of marijuana and methamphetamines from Texas border cities to the Red River Valley between North Dakota and Minnesota. These drugs were later sold in the neighboring communities of Moorhead and Fargo.

Cerna was also ordered to serve 48 months of supervised release following his prison term and to pay a $100 special assessment to the Crime Victims Fund.

The following people have already been sentenced as co-conspirators in this case:

  • Sean Ingebretson, of Fargo, was sentenced April 10 to serve 12 years and three months in prison;
  • Juan Cerna, of Moorhead, co-leader of the conspiracy, was sentenced Feb.12 to 18 1/2 years in prison;
  • Steve Frederick Schmidt, of Fargo, was sentenced Feb. 12 to five years in prison;
  • Brandon Scott Elsenpeter, of Fargo, was sentenced Feb. 12 to three years of probation;
  • Al Owen Johnson, of Moorhead, was sentenced March 20 to 18 years in prison;
  • Cassandra Anne Kasowski, of Moorhead, was sentenced March 20 to 18 years in prison;
  • Jonathan Scott Lewis, of Minneapolis, was sentenced March 3 to three years of probation.
  • Allison Schrelle Hunter, of Fargo, was sentenced March 17 to two years of probation.

Four individuals who have been convicted as part of this conspiracy will be sentenced in Fargo on the following dates:

  • William Russ, of Fargo, sentencing set for April 24;
  • Leslie Thompson, of Valley City, sentencing set for April 24;
  • Silvestre Cerna, of Grand Forks, sentencing set for June 9; and
  • Elizabeth Brinkmann, of Moorhead, sentencing set for June 25.