Local man arrested for smuggling crack from Seattle

Police detained suspect, age 46, at airport based on tip

Posted: Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Juneau Police Department arrested a 46-year-old man Saturday for flying into town with nearly an ounce of crack cocaine to sell.

Juneau resident Arthur C. Chappell Jr. has been arrested on a felony drug charge with intent to distribute, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Police contacted Chappell at the Juneau International Airport on Saturday after receiving a tip that he was flying into town from Seattle with cocaine to resell, spokesman Sgt. Dave Campbell said.

Chappell was detained at the airport while police sought a search warrant, according to an affidavit filed in Juneau Superior Court. An officer found a bag containing 27 grams of crack cocaine under the seat of the patrol car Chappell was transported in once arriving at the police station, according to court records.

"It field tested positive for cocaine and it appeared to be crack cocaine," Campbell said.

The officer transporting Chappell searched the vehicle prior to his shift, as part of department policy, and said no other people had been in the patrol car prior to the defendant. Chappell "was moving around in the patrol car, which caught (the officer's) attention," according to the affidavit.

Chappell is being held in the Lemon Creek Correctional Center on $1,000 cash bail.

Chappell has a lengthy police record with numerous convictions dating back to the late 1980s. He has been convicted of felony sexual abuse of a minor, multiple misdemeanor assault charges, domestic violence assault, theft, resisting arrest, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, disorderly conduct and contempt of court.

The street value of the drugs seized from Chappell was about $150 a gram, or roughly $4,050, Campbell said.

"The smaller the quantities it is sold in the higher the street value, like any other drug," he said.

Catching a person bringing drugs into Juneau by plane, the ferry system or through the mail has a lot of "bang for its bust," Campbell said. Setting up buys with confidential informants takes a lot of the investigators' time and resources, he said.

"You can get larger quantities, typically, than if you go out with a confidential informant," Campbell said.

The illegal use of the prescription pain medicine OxyContin is the most common drug police are seeing in the community lately, but it's not the only one, Campbell said.

"We have a drug subculture in Juneau that uses virtually every type of controlled substances. ... We routinely get information and work cases on cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, psilocybin mushrooms," Campbell added. "If it's a controlled substance, we see it."

Chappell's case will be brought before a grand jury to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed.

• Contact reporter Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or by e-mail at eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.

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