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Published November 10, 2009, 12:19 PM

Man Sentenced to Life for Meth Distribution Ring

A man has been sentenced to life in prison for leading a conspiracy to bring hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine into North Dakota through the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation.

A man has been sentenced to life in prison for leading a conspiracy to bring hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine into North Dakota through the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation.

Miguel Angel Chavez told U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson at his sentencing Tuesday that he was sorry for his crimes.

Prosecutors said the operation led by Chavez, who lived in Washington and Oregon, brought at least 200 pounds of meth into North Dakota. They said about $2.2 million changed hands.

A federal jury convicted Chavez of six counts, including money laundering, identity theft and a continuing criminal enterprise.

The continuing criminal enterprise charge carried a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

The investigation, known as Operation Paint by Numbers, began in 2002 with the seizure of meth in Fargo. Prosecutors say it got its name from the numbers put together by analyzing telephone calls and other records that painted a picture of the crime.

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