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Three men sentenced in meth ring linked to 2016 Grand Forks truck stop murder

Daniel Rodriguez Jr., 26, of Crookston; Ryan Ringsrud-Knowles, 34, of Arvilla, N.D.; and Aaron Lee Morado, 27, of Grand Forks

FARGO -- Three men in a criminal conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in the Red River Valley linked to the 2016 murder of a man at the Flying J truck stop in Grand Forks were sentenced Wednesday in federal court.

Christopher Ryan Ringsrud-Knowles, 34, of Arvilla, N.D.; Daniel Rodriguez Jr., 26, of Crookston; and Aaron Lee Morado, 27, of Grand Forks, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson for their roles in the conspiracy.

Ringsrud-Knowles was sentenced to four years and two months in prison for evidence tampering connected to the March 11, 2016, murder of Austin Forsman.

Krystal Feist, 32, pleaded guilty on Feb. 27 to murder in the furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy and admitted to shooting Forsman with a shotgun and killing him. She is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 9.

Ringsrud-Knowles pleaded guilty to breaking down the shotgun used in Forsman’s killing and throwing it in a river.

Rodriguez and Morado were labeled street-level distributors in the ring, and both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substance charges. Rodriguez was sentenced to seven years in prison. Morado was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years.

All three men will be placed on three years of supervised probation following their release.

Thirteen co-conspirators were indicted as members of the conspiracy.

Modesto Alfredo Torrez, 34, was labeled the ringleader of the conspiracy by prosecutors. He is scheduled for a change of plea hearing June 15. A plea agreement filed in federal court states he will plead guilty to murder in the furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy, conspiracy to possess and distribute a controlled substance and death caused by use of a firearm during a crime of violence.

The plea agreement states Torrez will admit to instructing Feist to get a gun and that Feist could have reasonably understood Torrez wanted her to shoot Forsman.

Another co-conspirator, Lorie Ortiz, has a change of plea hearing also scheduled for June 15. A plea agreement states she will plead guilty to accessory after the fact to murder in connection to Forsman’s death.

Four others indicted in the group -- Vaughn Michael Scott, Christopher Alan Anderson, Andrew Robert Wiley and Andrew Neil Hills -- have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances charges and are awaiting sentencing on June 15.

Darla Kay Jerome was sentenced to two years and seven months in prison for her role in the conspiracy, and Walter Joseph Ganyo has been sentenced to seven years.

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