Alaska Digest

Posted: Monday, May 16, 2005

Sixteen arrested in Kotzebue

ANCHORAGE - Sixteen people were arrested in Kotzebue after a four-month investigation into alcohol and drug trafficking to nearby dry villages.

Fourteen of those arrested this month included those believed responsible for bringing large amounts of alcohol, marijuana or cocaine into Western Alaska villages, Alaska State Troopers said.

Charges varied from bootlegging to multiple counts of misconduct involving a controlled substance. One man was charged with a parole violation and one picked up on an outstanding warrant.

Troopers and other law enforcement agencies served four homes with search warrants May 5. They found marijuana ready for sale, small amounts of cocaine, about $14,000 in cash, four weapons and seven bottles of whiskey, they said.

Most evidence against those accused stems from information gathered over the four months of the investigation, said trooper Sgt. Andy Greenstreet.

Greenstreet said a 750 milliliter bottle of whiskey that costs less than $10 in Anchorage goes for $50 in Kotzebue and $100 in the neighboring dry villages. Kotzebue bans the sale of liquor but not the possession.

Man rescued from Baranof Island

SITKA - A 21-year-old Fairbanks man was rescued from a Southeast island after losing camping gear and reporting that he was hypothermic.

Francis A. Cox was found Thursday night about 14 miles east of Sitka near Mount Bassie on Baranof Island.

Alaska State Troopers said Cox left on Tuesday from Medivijie Hatchery, about nine miles south of Sitka. He planned to hike across Baranof Island to Baranof Warm Springs.

Troopers said Cox had been described as an experienced climber who had ascended Mount McKinley twice. However, they said he chose poor clothing for the conditions he met.

On Wednesday, Cox hailed the Coast Guard in Sitka and said he might be lost. During the conversation, the Coast Guard determined Cox was using the wrong declination on his map, troopers said.

Cox said he was attempting to descend from the 4,200-foot level of Mount Bassie toward the east. On his descent, Cox reported he was nearly caught in an avalanche, and at one point while hiking down an ice field above Baranof Lake, he began to slide down a steep slope.

He stopped his slide with his fingers and feet, cutting his hands severely, he said. He spent Wednesday night at the 2,900-foot level.

On Thursday, Cox again contacted the Coast Guard and said he was becoming hypothermic. Rescuers found Cox at 8 p.m. on a narrow knife ridge, troopers said. He was wearing tennis shoes, cotton pants, a light jacket and light rain gear.

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