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Alaska agencies get payout from drug investigation

Posted: March 20, 2013 - 12:05am
U.S. Attorney for Alaska Karen Loeffler, left, presents an oversized check to Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew on Tuesday, March 19, 2013, in Anchorage, Alaska. Anchorage police, along with the Alaska National Guard and the Alaska State Troopers, received the checks for their parts in the investigation of a large drug ring that operated in the last decade in Alaska. The money came after assets of those in the drug ring were liquidated. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)  Mark Thiessen
Mark Thiessen
U.S. Attorney for Alaska Karen Loeffler, left, presents an oversized check to Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew on Tuesday, March 19, 2013, in Anchorage, Alaska. Anchorage police, along with the Alaska National Guard and the Alaska State Troopers, received the checks for their parts in the investigation of a large drug ring that operated in the last decade in Alaska. The money came after assets of those in the drug ring were liquidated. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

ANCHORAGE — The trappings of extravagant lifestyles lived by members of a drug trafficking group have been sold off, and the proceeds will help law enforcement in their efforts to catch other criminals.

Several state and federal law enforcement agencies on Tuesday received oversized checks totaling more than $2 million from Karen Loeffler, the U.S. attorney for Alaska.

The money came from the liquidation of homes and other property belonging to Thomas Ranes and other members of his group that brought nearly $10 million worth of drugs, mainly marijuana, from Canada into Alaska in a six-year span, ending with an indictment in 2006.

Ranes and six others moved hundreds of pounds of marijuana, hidden away in secret compartments on vehicles, in spare tires, snowmachine trailers, a concealed compartment on a fuel tank and under boards on a flatbed truck.

Officials have said Ranes, the ringleader, often laundered drug money through his Anchorage welding and auto repair business, Ranes & Shine Auto. The money was used to buy property in Alaska, Alabama and the Ukraine, and expensive items like a Hummer with six TVs inside it, a Corvette, a boat, an RV and weapons.

One of the conspirators also pleaded guilty to murdering the group’s former ringleader, Tom Cody. Nopenone Dennis Shine is serving a 30-year sentence for killing Cody, who was replaced as leader by Ranes.

Ranes pleaded guilty to drug charges and his role in Cody’s killing, and also received a 30-year sentence.

The Anchorage Police Department, the Alaska National Guard and the Alaska State Troopers were financially rewarded for their assistance in the investigation that brought down the drug ring.

Troopers got the lion’s share, at $1.5 million. The guard received about $428,000, and Anchorage police received about $362,000.

Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew said the money can be used to pay for overtime and training, in other investigations and to purchase equipment.

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