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Man gets 30 years for leading drug operation

FARGO -- Calling the defendant a "two-bit thug," a federal judge in Fargo Friday sentenced Michael San Miguel Jr. to 30 years in prison for running a drug distribution ring in Jamestown.

A lot of people are going to prison because they knew Michael San Miguel, U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson said before sentencing San Miguel on a number of drug trafficking charges.

U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley said after the sentencing that San Miguel, 29, supervised 14 people, many of whom have or soon will be sentenced in U.S. District Court.

Wrigley said investigations like "Operation White Cloud" are having a direct impact on the amount of crimes committed in places like Jamestown.

Since San Miguel's operation was exposed, drugs have become scarcer in North Dakota, causing the price of marijuana to nearly double in some places, Wrigley said.

At moments, Erickson appeared at a loss for words to express his anger at San Miguel's sense of self importance, as indicated in a letter San Miguel wrote while in custody to his girlfriend in which he talked about selling the rights to his story.

"There is nothing special about this crime. You are nothing but a two-bit thug," Erickson told San Miguel.

"This is just bizarre to me," Erickson continued, deriding San Miguel for "going around ruining people's lives" yet remaining in complete denial of his responsibility.

Troy Kelly, a Jamestown police official, said that in the letter in question, San Miguel makes reference to credit card information that was to be used in some type of fraud.

Wrigley said the letter probably kept San Miguel from having six years shaved from his sentence, because it indicated he had not given up his criminal ways.

San Miguel spoke briefly during the sentencing hearing.

"I know I made a lot of bad decisions and some horrible mistakes," San Miguel told Erickson.

Wrigley said the judge accurately characterized San Miguel.

"He's a thug. A lot of lives were very negatively impacted," Wrigley said.

The Forum and The Dickinson Press are both owned by Forum Communications Co.