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Aspiring singer, 2 men indicted charges

Soledad "Chole" Ybarra dreamed of following in the footsteps of famed Tejano star Selena. As a teen searching for stardom, Ybarra performed on numerous stages throughout the region and was a finalist for Fargo's 2002 "American Idol" competition. ...

Soledad "Chole" Ybarra dreamed of following in the footsteps of famed Tejano star Selena.

As a teen searching for stardom, Ybarra performed on numerous stages throughout the region and was a finalist for Fargo's 2002 "American Idol" competition.

Social justice group Centro Cultural de Fargo-Moorhead honored her as a singer and activist the same year, five months after she gave a commencement speech at her high school graduation.

Now 21, she may soon be facing a jury.

Federal prosecutors filed an indictment earlier this month charging her and two men with conspiracy to sell meth, cocaine and marijuana in the Red River Valley. If convicted, she faces between 10 years to life in prison.

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Authorities accuse Ybarra, Michael Alan Petzold, 23, and Troy Gene Lorsung, 22, of participating in a drug-trafficking conspiracy extending into Washington, California and Mexico.

All three have pleaded not guilty to the latest charges.

Prosecutors say the three conspired to sell at least 500 grams of meth beginning in January 2002, but an indictment provides few details about the case.

On Monday, Ybarra and Petzold appeared in Fargo's U.S. District Court. Lorsung, who appeared last week in court, faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted because of previous drug crimes in Clay County and Ward County, N.D.

Petzold of Norfolk, Neb., faces 20 years to life in prison if convicted. He previously lived in Wahpeton, N.D., and was convicted there for drug possession five years ago.

Ybarra and Petzold are scheduled to go on trial Jan. 23.

Attorney William Kirschner, hired to represent Ybarra, invoked her right to a speedy trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Myers said he expects it to last three to four weeks.

At a court hearing in September, authorities said Ybarra had planned to leave for Mexico to meet with a co-conspirator in the case.

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Clay County Sheriff's Detective Chuck Anderson said officers found a spiral notebook with notes - detailing the ongoing drug and homicide investigation - during a search of the Moorhead apartment where Ybarra lived.

The search also turned up a handgun, he said.

The indictment accuses members of the conspiracy of using threats and violence to promote drug trafficking, exchanging guns and vehicles for drugs and distributing narcotics from homes and hotels in Fargo, Moorhead, Wahpeton, Sanborn, N.D., and the Minnesota cities of Hawley, Cormorant and Breckenridge.

Court records don't state what murder authorities are investigating. Myers declined to comment on the investigation.

Ybarra, Petzold and Lorsung all remain in federal custody.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Steven P. Wagner at (701) 241-5542

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