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Man sentenced to 10 years for fentanyl distribution

One of the men behind what authorities described as the first drug trafficking operation to focus on fentanyl distribution in the Twin Ports was sentenced Monday to more than 10 years in prison.

Joshua John Wilding, 32, received the 125-month term from Judge Mark Munger in State District Court in Duluth. The St. Paul man pleaded guilty last month to four felony charges — first-degree sale of a controlled substance and three firearm violations.

Wilding was arrested as part of "Operation Jailbird," a multi-jurisdiction investigation that led to the seizure of more than 100 grams of fentanyl, over $21,000 and nine firearms through the execution of search warrants in the Twin Ports and St. Paul.

Authorities said in July that the ring was operated from inside a Wisconsin prison by 36-year-old Aaron Andre Reynolds and from outside by Wilding, using a network of drug dealers and gun traffickers. Five other defendants also face a variety of drug and firearm crimes.

The investigation was handled by the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force; Duluth and Superior police departments; Douglas County Sheriff's Office; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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