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Local man pleads guilty to distributing heroin

Posted: March 10, 2013 - 11:04pm

A 37-year-old local man has pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin in Juneau, a federal crime due to the mass quantity involved.

Joshua River Riley changed his plea Friday in U.S. District Court before Judge Timothy Burgess. He will be sentenced on May 31.

Riley admitted to purchasing heroin from two drug dealers in Portland, Ore., late last year. A drug mule, unnamed in court documents, was caught transporting the drugs back to Juneau on a commercial flight.

Prosecutors said Riley’s codefendant in Juneau, Bradley Arin Bethel, 25, recruited and paid for the travel of the drug mule. Electronic court records indicate Bethel’s case is still active, although it’s unclear what the status of the case is.

Prosecutors said the conspiracy lasted at least one month, from October to November of 2012. It was not said how many trips to Portland were made altogether, or the total amount of drugs that were transported to Juneau.

Charging documents state that Riley had made previous trips to Oregon and either personally brought the heroin back, or used drugs couriers. The documents state that once back in Juneau, Riley was also the person who dealt the drugs.

Both Riley and Bethel were indicted by a federal grand jury in Juneau on Jan. 15 on one count each of conspiring to distribute heroin. That’s a felony that has a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison. The maximum possible penalty is 40 years imprisonment.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt said the two dealers in Portland were also charged for their role in the conspiracy.

Riley, a former employee at Silverbow, is also facing a felony theft charge out of state court. He was accused of stealing $2,500 from Silverbow’s till box, and he is still awaiting trial in that case.

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

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