BETHEL - A Bethel man was arrested after 42 pounds of marijuana was seized in one of the biggest drug busts ever in Western Alaska, Alaska State Troopers said.
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At an estimated street value in Bethel of $1,400 per ounce, troopers said the seizure is worth about $940,000.
The amount of marijuana seized in this arrest compares to amount of marijuana seized over the last three years combined in Western Alaska, said Troopers Lt. Keith Mallard.
Francis Cryan, 57, was taken into custody Monday after he flew into Bethel from Anchorage on a local air carrier with some of the marijuana hidden in his checked luggage, troopers said.
The 12 pounds of marijuana was vacuum-sealed in plastic bags in a large plastic tote, troopers said. The marijuana was packed on the bottom and covered with trash bag liners, then groceries and toiletries, said troopers investigator Jerry Evan, with the Western Alaska Alcohol and Narcotics Team.
The other 30 pounds of marijuana was locked in a gun safe Cryan shipped to himself from Anchorage through a cargo carrier, Evan said.
"I was just surprised to see that much quantity," Evan said, of when he unlocked the safe and saw its contents. "It was a lot of weed."
Troopers also said they found $89,000 in cash, 5 ounces of cocaine, six handguns, two rifles, scales, drug packaging equipment, cell phones and a computer, and other items when they later searched Cryan's Bethel home and vehicle.
Cryan was arrested on two counts of third-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance and three counts of fourth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance. Other charges, including federal charges, are being considered.
Evan said Cryan went on drug runs to Anchorage about once or twice a month, flying on a local carrier and transporting the marijuana in the checked totes. The drugs were then sold in Bethel and surrounding villages, troopers said.
"It's pretty obvious he's been doing this for a while," Evan said.
Troopers give much of the credit for the bust to their drug-sniffing dog, Sirius. The dog and its handler were transferred to Bethel in February to specifically nab drug traffickers.
Bethel city manager Wally Baird said he hopes the seizure sends a clear message: "Just because Bethel is remote and far away from everything else, doesn't mean it's an easy place to get away with things."
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