Body of man suspected of heading large drug ring found near Palmer

Posted: Sunday, July 22, 2007

ANCHORAGE - A body found this month in the Jim Creek area near Palmer is that of Tom Cody, an Anchorage man suspected of being a real estate investor and head of a multimillion-dollar drug ring.

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Cody, 35, vanished on June 1, 2005. A year after he went missing, a federal indictment said Cody was a top player in a drug-import syndicate. Late last year, prosecutors said for the first time they believed he was murdered.

Cody's body was recovered about 300 yards from where police found the burned-out vehicle he had been driving around the time of his disappearance, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Russo. The area is notorious as a party spot and resting place for shot-up or burned-out old cars.

The identification of Cody's remains had to be confirmed through an autopsy, which was performed last week.

The drug ring smuggled marijuana known as "B.C. Bud" out of Canada in secret compartments of vehicles that crossed the border, according to the indictment. The business also dealt in ecstasy, federal authorities said.

According to the charges, the conspiracy began in 2000 and generated more than $10 million in drug proceeds. Cody and partner Joe Bryant were described as the business side of the ring. Bryant committed suicide last year.

A new indictment handed up in December by a federal grand jury accuses Thomas Ranes and Nopenone Dennis Shine of conspiring to kill Cody to further the drug enterprise.

Prosecutors say the money was laundered through Ranes' auto business, sent to Ranes' father in Alabama and invested in real estate in Anchorage, Alabama and Ukraine. Cody and Bryant were trying to close on a deal to sell land in Anchorage to the city when Cody disappeared.

The enterprise began to crumble in 2005 when Ranes borrowed money from Cody that he couldn't pay back, the indictment says. After a botched drug run in May 2005, Cody blamed Ranes and sent a man to threaten him. Ranes began plotting with Shine to kill Cody, the indictment says.

Shine shot Cody with a 9mm Beretta equipped with a silencer outside Cody's Hillside home, then enlisted Ranes to help him get rid of the body, according to the indictment. They wanted to steal $1 million in drug money headed to Canada, the indictment says.

Russo, the lead prosecutor in the case, which involves multiple defendants and charges of money laundering and conspiracy, wouldn't discuss what the autopsy found as to the cause of death.

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