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Grand Forks synthetic-drug dealer gets 20 years

By Tu-Uyen Tran/ Grand Forks Herald

Updated 9:02 a.m. April 15, 2014: A key player in the synthetic drug conspiracy that killed two teens in Grand Forks has been sentenced to 20 years in prison, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. 


Casey Stevens Rosen, 24, Minneapolis, and a co-conspirator, bought and manufactured hallucinogens that were sold in the area.

Because Rosen had a prior drug conviction, he had faced a minimum of life in prison for the charge of conspiring to possess and sell synthetic drugs leading to serious injury and death. But he pleaded guilty in 2013 and received a reduced sentence Monday in federal court in Fargo.

Besides prison time, Rosen will have to forfeit $100,000, pay $100 to the Crime Victims Fund and serve five years of probation.

The Justice Department said at least 14 people have been charged in the case, including Rosen and his co-conspirator, Andrew Michael Spofford, 23, Grand Forks. Spofford was sentenced to 17½ years in prison last month.

Debbie Bjerk, the mother of one of the victims, said she and her husband, Keith, were again in court to read a victim-impact statement as they had been in other sentencing hearings. Her son, Christian Bjerk died at 18 in June 2012. The other victim, Elijah Stai, died at 17 that month as well.

“Casey Rosen was very, very remorseful and gave a very emotional apology,” Debbie Bjerk said. “He spoke directly to my husband and I when he talked, and he told us how very, very sorry he was.”

She said she has forgiven him.

The Justice Department has dubbed the case “Operation Stolen Youth.”

Federal prosecutor Chris Myers said Rosen and Spofford formed a partnership in January 2011 to import chemicals from overseas and buy them from Motion Resources in Houston. Spofford, a self-described “hobby chemist,” cooked the drugs at his home and also recruited people to learn to cook and sell the drugs. The 12 others charged include drug dealers and chemical suppliers.

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