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Southeast narcotics team confiscates cocaine, methadone in 4 busts

Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2003

State drug enforcement officers are waiting to arrest at least five suspects police said are connected with shipments of cocaine, marijuana and methadone recently confiscated in Juneau.

The Southeast Alaska Narcotics Enforcement Team, known as SEANET, recently seized more than an ounce of cocaine, almost a pound of marijuana and more than 70 tablets of methadone in four separate operations.

SEANET is a drug-enforcement task force comprised of Alaska State Troopers and police in Juneau and other Southeast communities.

The drugs were found March 27 and 28 and April 10 at a local parcel delivery service, smuggled on an airplane with a 23-year-old woman and at a Juneau post office, a SEANET press release said.

Trooper Sgt. Tim Birt said SEANET is investigating at least five suspects and is waiting for crime lab results to make arrests. None of the suspects' names was released.

"We pretty much know what we found are drugs but we have to have official confirmation from the crime lab in Anchorage to take to the grand jury, and then hopefully we'll get an indictment," he said.

Birt said he doesn't know when the suspects in the case will be arrested, but they know they are under investigation. The suspects could face second, third and fourth-degree misconduct involving controlled substance charges. The charges carry maximum sentences of 20, 10 and five years in prison, respectively.

According to the press release, SEANET officers, along with officers from the drug unit of the Alaska Army National Guard, seized three packages at a local parcel delivery service on March 27 and 28.

The packages were mailed from California to three residents in Juneau, Birt said. Birt would not release the name of the delivery service and said it is not criminally liable for the drugs.

The packages contained about 45.1 grams - about an ounce and a half - of cocaine and 439.5 grams - roughly a pound - of marijuana. One gram of cocaine is about the size of a Sweet 'N Low packet, Birt said, and sells for $100. A gram of marijuana sells for about $20.

"(T)hese amounts are not for personal use," he said. "They were meant for sales and distribution."

Birt said SEANET officers found the packages on a random search of the mail.

On April 10, SEANET also discovered a package containing 71 tablets of methadone sent by mail from Seattle. Officers tracked it to a 54-year-old Juneau man on April 14, the release said.

Methadone is a narcotic often used to wean addicts from heroin, but it can be abused as a very strong painkiller, Birt said. It sells on the street for about $10 a tablet, he said.

Birt said the 23-year-old woman questioned at Juneau International Airport allegedly was carrying nearly 3 ounces of cocaine. Officers were waiting for her as she arrived from Anchorage after getting a tip from one of SEANET's sources.

Melanie Plenda can be reached at mplenda@juneauempire.com.



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