Alaska Digest

Posted: Thursday, April 13, 2006

SEANET investigates backpack meth lab

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JUNEAU - The Southeast Alaska Narcotics Enforcement Team is still investigating a backpack methamphetaine laboratory discovered Monday in a wooded area near Cinema and Stephen Richards Memorial drives.

The ingredients of the operation included iodine, psuedoephedrine and red phosphorus, SEANET announced.

Police found the backpack near the Alderwood Apartments complex after responding to a tip.

Fast ferry resumption goes to committee

JUNEAU - The Alaska House Transportation Committee has sent a resolution up to the House Finance Committee asking the state to resume winter fast ferry runs in Lynn Canal and Prince William Sound.

The resolution, House Concurrent Resolution 38, had a public hearing Tuesday afternoon but did not get a vote because of a lack of quorum.

An aide to Transportation Committee Co-Chairman Jim Elkins, R-Ketchikan, said Wednesday the committee unanimously decided to waive the resolution out of committee. Otherwise, further work on the legislation would have had to wait until next week.

Pot bill goes back to state House, Senate

JUNEAU - A legislative conference committee on Wednesday denied one last attempt to remove tougher restrictions on marijuana possession from a drug bill before approving a final version of the measure.

The bill is meant to curb the manufacture of methamphetamine and give the state the legal artillery to overturn Alaska Supreme Court decisions that have made the state's marijuana laws among the most lenient in the nation.

The final bill now goes back to the House and Senate for ratification before heading to Gov. Frank Murkowski for his signature.

The conference committee of six House and Senate members made only two significant changes to the bill: requiring a customer to sign a logbook before buying a medicine with an ephedrine base, such as Sudafed; and making it illegal to sell those ephedrine-based drugs to anybody under 16.

Ephedrine-based drugs are a precursor to methamphetamine manufacture. The logbook requirement would mirror a provision in the federal Patriot Act.

The Senate Finance Committee had rolled into the House methamphetamine bill Murkowski's priority marijuana measure that added harsher penalties for possession of the drug.

The Republican members of the conference committee voted Wednesday against splitting them into separate bills again. Sen. Con Bunde, R-Anchorage, said the overall goal was to reduce the number of impaired people in society.

"Whether they're high on meth or stoned on pot, it's the same to me," Bunde said.

Two soldiers killed in separate incidents

FORT WAINWRIGHT - Two Fort Wainwright soldiers were killed in separate incidents in Rawah, Iraq, an Army spokesman said Wednesday.

Spc. Shawn R. Creighton, 21, of Windsor, N.C., died when a roadside bomb detonated near his Stryker vehicle Saturday, Maj. Kirk Gohlke said. No other soldiers were injured.

And on Tuesday, another Fort Wainwright soldier was killed and two others were wounded when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in Rawah, Gohlke said.

The wounded soldiers' identities were not immediately released.

The relatives of the soldier killed have been notified, said Gohlke, who anticipated that the name would be released Thursday.

Creighton was assigned to the 4th Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Gohlke said. The infantryman joined the Army in July 2003 and was assigned to Fort Wainwright in December 2003.

The two deaths are the fourth this month for soldiers with Alaska ties in Iraq. Pfc. Joseph I. Love-Fowler, 21, of North Pole, died when a roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee in Balad on Saturday, the Department of Defense said.

Spc. Dustin James Harris, 21, a Maine native serving at Fort Wainwright, died when a bomb detonated about 150 miles north of Baghdad while he was on foot patrol April 6, the Army said.

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