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Alleged drug ring leader's ex testifies in trial

Posted: Tuesday, June 15, 2010

ANCHORAGE - The former girlfriend of a man accused of operating a drug smuggling ring testified Monday that she saw large amounts of cocaine and methamphetamine packed in gallon-sized food storage bags delivered to a rental home in east Anchorage.

Seirosa Sia Milo, 28, said that when she went to stay at Juan Manuel Mendiola's house, she saw a lot of drugs stored in large plastic bags inside the home.

"Meth was in big sandwich bags, so was the cocaine," she said.

Milo testified during the federal trial of Mendiola, who is accused of being the leader of the drug smuggling and selling operation that used private shippers to move the drugs. Federal prosecutors say the drugs, including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, were received in Anchorage from California and then distributed throughout Alaska.

Prosecutors allege that Milo was in charge of receiving and shipping packages containing drugs, money or sometimes both. She is one of 12 people indicted last year on drug charges. Many of them have pleaded guilty to being involved in a drug conspiracy.

Prosecutors contend that the drug ring used numerous homes throughout Anchorage. A federal agent testified Monday that in March 2007, a package to one of the addresses was intercepted and that it contained about 6 kilograms of cocaine and a pound of methamphetamine.

A large board with photographs of the defendants and homes believed to be involved in the operation was on display at the trial.

Milo, wearing a prison jump suit in U.S. District Court on Monday, identified the home where she and Mendiola lived.

"If drugs were coming from out of state, we left the house," she said, adding that they would go to a nearby hotel and leave the job of receiving the packages to others.

"Juan would get a phone call, and he would go back to the house," Milo said.

Prosecutors contend that Mendiola took care of the Alaska end of the operation, from which authorities seized cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and more than $100,000 in cash.

Kenneth Solek Jr., a Drug Enforcement Agency supervisor in New Orleans, said he was part of a drug interdiction team in Anchorage in 2007 when he helped police search one of the homes believed to be used for the operation.

He said they found a shoebox in a bedroom closet containing a half-kilo of cocaine and a scale. There was a loaded gun on a shelf and $11,000 in a plastic bag on the floor of the closet.

They also found a photo album with pictures of Mendiola carrying a gun in one hand and displaying a fan of money in the other.

Solek testified the search also produced several bottles of inositol powder, which "is often used to cut cocaine, to dilute it so it goes further."

During morning testimony, a firearms expert testified about numerous guns seized during the investigation, including two military-style machine guns capable of firing 25 rounds in one second. The expert said there is no faster machine gun.



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