Grand Junction man guilty of fentanyl distribution resulting in death of Carbondale man

Holder convicted in connection with December 2017 overdose death

Bruce Holder, 55, of Grand Junction faces up to life in prison and a $20 million fine after a jury convicted him on charges related to the overdose death of a Carbondale man.

Holder was convicted of distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and other counterfeit substances, distribution of fentanyl and distribution of a counterfeit substance after an 11-day trial in Denver, according to a news release Monday from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Holder’s actions lead to the death of John Ellington of Carbondale, the jury found. Ellington, 30, died Dec. 28, 2017, after coming into contact with fentanyl or a fentanyl mixture, officials said.

“Evidence presented at trial established that this man would not have died but for the fentanyl present in the counterfeit pills distributed by Holder,” the release states.

“Facts presented at trial established that Holder worked in conjunction with multiple co-conspirators, including his wife, children and other members of his family, to distribute pills which appeared to be 30mg Oxycodone pills but in fact were counterfeit and spiked with fentanyl,” the news release says.

“Between 2017 and 2018, Holder imported tens of thousands of these pills from Mexico into Western Colorado where he and his co-conspirators distributed them for substantial profit.”

Officials said that despite knowing of Ellington’s death, and hearing of other concerns, Holder and his co-conspirators “continued to import and distribute these counterfeit pills. This continued even after Holder’s arrest in August 2018. Evidence at trial also showed that, following his arrest, Holder discussed with co-conspirators plans to destroy evidence and the possible murder of a cooperating witness.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Matt Kirsch said Holder profited from the fact that many people know fentanyl is incredibly dangerous but don’t know that it can be disguised to look like less powerful opioids.

“Holder now faces an appropriately long prison sentence for his callous drug distribution,” Kirsch stated in the release.

U.S. District Court Judge Christine M. Arguello presided over the trial and will impose sentence at a later date.

The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation, with the assistance of the FBI, ATF, HSI, USMS, Western Colorado Drug Task Force, Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team (“TRIDENT”), Carbondale PD, Fruita PD, Grand Junction PD, and Mesa County SO. Assistant United States Attorney Jeremy Chaffin and Special Assistant United States Attorney Jaime Pena handled the prosecution of the case.


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