(U.S. DEA) — DENVER, CO – 57-year-old Bruce Holder of Grand Junction, CO has been sentenced to life in federal prison. In April 2021, Holder was convicted of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and counterfeit substances, distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, distribution of fentanyl, and distribution of a counterfeit substance, following an 11-day trial.
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 that appeared to be legitimate 30mg Oxycodone pills, but in fact were counterfeit and spiked with fentanyl.
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.
In 2017, a young man died after using one of the pills. Evidence presented at trial established that this man would not have died but for the fentanyl present in the counterfeit pills distributed by Holder and his co-conspirators. Despite knowing of this 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 possibly murder a cooperating witness.
United States District Court Judge Christine M. Arguello presided over the trial and sentenced the defendant on January 11, 2023.
“It has taken more than five years to get justice for the victims’ families. We hope this brings them some amount of peace,” said United States Attorney Cole Finegan. “We could not have gotten to this point without the hard work and dedication from our law enforcement partners at the DEA, the FBI, Homeland Security, the Grand Junction Police Department, and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office. We hope this sentence sends a strong message to fentanyl dealers that we will hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law if your illicit drugs kill people in our state.”
“First and foremost, I want to thank the investigators and prosecutors who tirelessly worked on this case for years with tenacity and compassion. It was their relentless determination that made it possible for us to see justice for these families,” said DEA Rocky Mountain Special Agent in Charge Brian Besser. “There is no outcome that will bring back loved ones; but we do hope today is a small step forward for the families, and a stark reminder that DEA’s work to protect our communities from dangerous and greedy fentanyl distributors continues this very hour and we will not stop.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Rocky Mountain Division led the investigation, with the assistance of the FBI, ATF, HSI, USMS, Western Colorado Drug Task Force, Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team (“TRIDENT”), Carbondale Police Department, Fruita Police Department, Grand Junction Police Department, and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office. Special Assistant United States Attorney Jaime Pena and former assistant United States Attorney Jeremy Chaffin and handled the prosecution of the case.
This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.