DENVER (KDVR) — A 57-year-old Grand Junction man was sentenced to life in federal prison after he was convicted in April 2021 for the distribution of fentanyl resulting in death and several other charges.

Bruce Holder worked with multiple people including his wife, children and other members of his family to distribute fake oxycodone pills that were laced with fentanyl, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado said in a release.

Holder imported tens of thousands of the pills from Mexico into western Colorado between 2017 and 2018, the release said.

One of those pills was the cause of a young man’s death in 2017. Holder continued to import and distribute after the man’s death and even after he was arrested in 2018.

The Attorney’s Office said Holder discussed plans with his connections to destroy evidence and possibly murder a cooperating witness after he was arrested.

“It has taken more than five years to get justice for the victims’ families. We hope this brings them some amount of peace,” United States Attorney Cole Finegan said. “We could not have gotten to this point without the hard work and dedication from our law enforcement partners at the DEA, the FBI, Homeland Security, the Grand Junction Police Department, and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office. We hope this sentence sends a strong message to fentanyl dealers that we will hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law if your illicit drugs kill people in our state.”

Holder’s charges, who was involved in the investigation

Holder was convicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and counterfeit substances, distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, distribution of fentanyl, and distribution of a counterfeit substance at the trial nearly two years ago.

A task force called the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force included members of these agencies:

  • Drug Enforcement Administration Rocky Mountain Division
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
  • Homeland Security Investigations
  • U.S. Marshals Service
  • Western Colorado Drug Task Force
  • Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team
  • Carbondale Police Department
  • Fruita Police Department
  • Grand Junction Police Department
  • Mesa County Sheriff’s Office 

The Attorney’s Office said this is the lengthiest sentence ever for a fentanyl distribution resulting in death case handed out by a Colorado federal court.