DOJ Believes Colorado Man Was Smuggling Counterfeit Oxycodone Pills Into The Country

Read PSM’s Fentanyl 101 to learn more about how fentanyl gets into fake medicines

The Daily Sentinel reported on a second Grand Junction, Colorado man’s indictment in connection to the death of a Carbondale man from counterfeit pills made with fentanyl. Bruce Holder received the same two-count indictment as Christopher Huggett: one-count distribution of a substance that contained fentanyl which resulted in the death of J.E. and one-count distribution of a substance that contained fentanyl which resulted in the serious bodily harm of Z.G.

The indictment does not detail what Holder’s role in the case was, but a later article by The Daily Sentinel shows federal prosecutors believe Holder is the source of the pills. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Chaffin stated his office has evidence that Holder made monthly trips to Mexico where he purchased the counterfeit oxycodone pills by the thousands. After smuggling them back across the border, the pills were sold for upwards of $20 each.

Although only identified as J.E. in court documents, previous reporting said Jonathan Ellington is the person who died in December after taking the counterfeit pills, and there is the real possibility that is is not the only one. “The investigation to date has identified a number of people whose deaths are linked to these … blue pills,” said Chaffin. Holder’s last trip to Mexico was in June of 2018. According to Chaffin, investigators think Holder passed the fentanyl pills to Huggett who in turn sold them to both Z.G. and Jonathan Ellington. If first responders had not quickly responded and been able to revive Z.G., “he very likely would have died,” said Chaffin.

Fearing that Holder was both a flight risk and a danger to the community, U.S. Magistrate Judge Gordon Gallagher ordered him held in custody pending trial.