Detroit men sentenced to five years each for fentanyl trafficking to Red Lake

Two Detroit men were each sentenced to five years in federal prison for their roles in a fentanyl trafficking operation that targeted the Red Lake Reservation.

Court documents state that 32-year-old Douglas McClendon and 41-year-old Christopher Richard conspired with others including 34-year-old Scot Watkins to distribute fentanyl pills, methamphetamine, and cocaine in March 2021.

The three co-defendants would obtain the drugs from suppliers in Detroit and then travel to Bemidji to sell them.

Richard told his co-conspirators in text messages that there was “hella money to be made” in Red Lake and emphasized that the reservation was “dry.”

Law enforcement executed a search warrant at a Bemidji hotel, with several hotels in the area used for the defendants’ drug distribution operation, and found 174 grams of fentanyl, 37 grams of meth and other narcotics.

As law enforcement made entry into the hotel room, McClendon and Watkins fled while Richard flushed a significant amount of fentanyl down the toilet.

Richard and McClendon pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, with Richard sentenced to 60 months last September and McClendon sentenced to 63 months Wednesday.

Watkins remains a fugitive from law enforcement.


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University. You can follow along with Larissa's live tweets of meetings and events on Twitter!


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