Jury indicts two in drug smuggling case

Posted: Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Police say they have busted a cocaine smuggling operation in Juneau with the indictments of two men by a grand jury.

Vonnie Williams, 44, and Aaron Washington, 42, were charged with operating a continuing criminal enterprise, a felony that carries a sentence of 20 to 99 years in prison.

The 36-count indictment handed down Thursday also charged the men with aiding and abetting misconduct involving a controlled substance.

Police said Williams and Washington enlisted others as couriers as early as March of 2003 to smuggle cocaine from Anchorage and Seattle into Juneau.

A series of smaller investigations involving criminal activity in Juneau came together about a year ago, said Sgt. Tim Birt of the Alaska Bureau of Alcohol & Drug Enforcement's SEANET Unit.

Williams was identified by police as the alleged leader behind a ring of crimes that included stolen checks, jewelry, art and mail from more than 30 locations throughout the city. The ring allegedly cashed more than $18,000 in payroll checks before police made arrests.

Seven people were arrested in association with that case, and two entered plea agreements in exchange for cooperating with police.

"We've put some substantial resources into making these cases over the past several months," said Sgt. David Campbell, an investigator with the Juneau Police Department. "A lot of the players are the same."

The investigation that resulted in Thursday's indictments had a substantial impact on the availability of drugs in Juneau, Campbell said.

According to state law, more than five people must act in concert to promote illegal drug activity to bring the felony charge of operating a continuing criminal enterprise.

Campbell said it is possible additional charges will be forthcoming in the case, but that those would likely not be as substantial.

"We got the main ringleaders," he said.

Washington is expected to be arraigned today in Juneau.

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