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SEACAD investigation leads to Juneau man's arrest

Jose Rodriguez Rivera, 49, charged with drug misconduct for allegedly dealing cocaine

Posted: September 12, 2012 - 11:08pm
Jose Rodriguez Rivera, 49, walks into Juneau District Court on Wednesday. He is accused of dealing cocaine on three occasions in August and September in Juneau, and he faces three felony counts of drug misconduct.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Jose Rodriguez Rivera, 49, walks into Juneau District Court on Wednesday. He is accused of dealing cocaine on three occasions in August and September in Juneau, and he faces three felony counts of drug misconduct.

A Juneau resident has been charged with three felony counts of dealing cocaine in Juneau, according to court documents.

Jose Rodriguez Rivera, 49, was arrested in downtown Juneau Tuesday evening after law enforcement conducted three controlled drug buys in the past two weeks. He appeared before Juneau District Court Judge Keith Levy for his first court appearance Wednesday.

Sgt. Chris Russell, an investigator with Southeast Alaska Cities Against Drugs Task Force (SEACAD), which led the investigation in this case, says this was actually one of the smaller drug busts he’s participated in. In a phone interview, Russell described Rivera as a street-level drug dealer.

Still, Rivera is facing serious charges and prosecutors say their case is strong.

“The strength of the state’s case in this situation is fairly strong,” Assistant District Attorney Amy Williams said in court during bail arguments. “Each of those sales were observed by law enforcement. When interviewed by law enforcement, Rivera admitted that he had made the sales.”

The District Attorney’s Office charged Rivera with three counts of third-degree drug misconduct. That’s a class ‘B’ felony that can carry up 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. That means if Rivera is convicted, he could be facing up to 30 years of jail time.

According to an affidavit, Rivera allegedly sold a confidential SEACAD informant two bags of cocaine, weighing 2.7 grams, for $240 on Aug. 30 at the Imperial Billiard & Bar on Front Street. The affidavit charges one of the bags tested field positive for cocaine.

The second controlled buy took place at the corner of Ferry and Marine Way last Wednesday. The affidavit charges Rivera sold the informant five bags of cocaine, weighing 5.4 grams, for $600. One of those bags also tested field positive for cocaine, according to the affidavit.

Officers contacted Rivera Tuesday after the third controlled drug buy in the lower level of the Marine View Parking Garage near the same downtown intersection. The affidavit alleges Rivera admitted to investigators that he sold the cocaine after the informant purchased another 5.5 grams.

In court on Wednesday, Levy ordered Rivera be held in custody on $15,000 bond, per prosecutors’ request.

Williams argued Rivera presented a flight risk since he had ties to Mexico. Williams said she believed Rivera was a Mexican citizen who is a permanent resident of the state of Alaska. She noted that he does not have any criminal history in Alaska.

Russell said Rivera was a Juneau resident. It wasn’t clear how long Rivera has been lived in Juneau or Alaska. Rivera told the judge in broken English during a financial inquiry that he used to work making picture frames and also in a pizza parlor.

Levy found Rivera qualified for court-appointed counsel and appointed the public defender agency to represent him. Assistant Public Defender Timothy Ayer reserved his bail arguments for a later court date.

Rivera is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing next Friday. The judge advised him that if he is indicted before then, that hearing will be vacated.

SEACAD operates under the umbrella of the Alaska Bureau of Investigation. Russell says the Juneau Police Department, an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and an Alaska State Trooper assisted SEACAD with Rivera’s arrest.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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