GRAND FORKS - The world’s largest group for police leaders has recognized the U.S. Attorney’s Office in North Dakota for its work in prosecuting suspects in an international drug ring that led to several fentanyl overdose deaths.

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U.S. Attorney Christopher Myers accepted the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Leadership in the Prevention of Transnational Crime Award, according to a news release. The award was given to the North Dakota office for its work on “Operation Denial,” an international investigation that was launched after the 2015 overdose death of 18-year-old Bailey Henke in Grand Forks, the association said.

Multiple agencies were involved in bringing charges against 32 defendants, with about a dozen of those suspects receiving federal prison sentences in the more than three-year investigation. Colombia national Daniel Vivas Ceron allegedly orchestrated from a Canadian prison a drug ring that saw tens of thousands of fentanyl pills and other drugs shipped across the U.S. between 2015 and 2017, according to court documents.

The latest round of indictments was announced in October 2017 and included Chinese national Jian Zhang, who has been accused of using his business to lead drug operations in China and arrange shipments of fentanyl to the U.S.