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Utahn pleads not guilty on U.S. ecstasy charges

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The man accused of being the state's biggest ecstasy dealer pleaded not guilty this past week to eight federal criminal charges.

Following the not-guilty pleas, U.S. Magistrate Ronald Boyce scheduled a three-day trial to begin Oct. 1.

Joshua M. Christensen, 31, faces one count of distribution of ecstasy, three counts of distribution of ecstasy with intent to distribute, two counts of possession of a chemical used to make GHB and one count of possession of GHB with intent to distribute. He has also been indicted with possessing three handguns used for drug trafficking.

Each of the drug counts carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison if convicted. A mandatory enhancement of at least five years could be added for the firearms.

Federal investigators believed Christensen is responsible for 80 percent of the ecstasy and GHB sold in Utah annually, with sales generating $6 million each year.

Law enforcers said they believe Christensen has been involved in drug trafficking in Utah for the past 16 years.