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'He's a poison dealer': Colorado man convicted for fentanyl-related death

Bruce Holder is the first person in Colorado to be federally convicted for distributing fentanyl resulting in death. Two families share how they've been impacted.

Darius Johnson, Janet Oravetz (9News)

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Published: 8:01 AM MDT May 4, 2022
Updated: 10:12 AM MDT May 5, 2022

In January 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Western Colorado Drug Task Force, and other agencies launched an investigation after a noticeable rise in the number of fentanyl-related deaths on the Western Slope. They hoped to discover who was supplying the lethal drugs.

Their investigation eventually led them to 56-year-old Bruce Holder who, according to an arrest warrant application, purchased the drugs in Mexico for cash and brought them back across the border into the United States and back to Colorado.

He would become the first person in the state to be federally convicted for distributing fentanyl resulting in death for the death of 30-year-old Jonathan Ellington. He was also charged in the death of 32-year-old Ashley Romero.

Investigators suspected at least two other deaths were linked to drugs supplied by Holder but lacked evidence to prove that in court, records show.

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