A federal grand jury has indicted four people with drug conspiracy charges after what authorities are calling the largest-ever seizure of crack cocaine and methamphetamine in Southeast Alaska.
The indictment names Francis Sampaga Guerrero, 36, and Angela Balogh Galeana, 28, both of Juneau, and Robert Lee Moore, 52, and Adrian Lopez-Cota, also known as Angel Bautista-Alvarado, age unknown, of Seattle. All were charged this week on conspiracy and drug possession charges.
"It was significant because of the quantity," said Harvey L. Goehring, federal Drug Enforcement Administration assistant special agent in charge, from Anchorage.
In a pickup shipped aboard the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry Malaspina in September, agents seized nearly 2 1/2 pounds of crack cocaine, about 1 pound of high-purity methamphetamine and a little more than 1 pound of powder cocaine.
According to a statement from First Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Smith in Anchorage, the charges would carry mandatory minimum prison sentences of 10 years and possible life sentences if the defendants are convicted as charged.
Goehring also said the case was significant because it was a cooperative effort involving so many federal, state and local agencies.
The indictment alleges the drugs were concealed inside the spare tire on the undercarriage of a pickup placed on the Malaspina, traveling from Bellingham, Wash., to Juneau. Investigators discovered the drugs and replaced all but a small amount of them with items of similar weight.
Moore, Galeana and Guerrero allegedly drove the pickup to Jerry Drive in the Mendenhall Valley on Sept. 23, according to the indictment, which alleged the drugs were obtained from Lopez-Cota.
Goehring said investigators followed the movements of the vehicle and arrested suspects attempting to retrieve the drugs.
Asked if any more indictments are likely in the case, Smith said she could only say the investigation continues.
"It was a pretty manpower-intensive investigation, and it was well worth it," Goehring said. "For Juneau, that's an awful lot of drugs."
The drugs, he added, were of exceptionally high purity, which would have allowed them to be diluted, increasing the amount that could have been sold on the streets.
In addition the to DEA, the case was investigated by the Southeast Alaska Narcotics Enforcement Team - SEANET - which is made up of state and municipal drug-enforcement officers. Also contributing to the investigation were the Alaska State Troopers Major Offenders Unit, Western Alaska Alcohol Narcotic Enforcement Team, drug units from Mat-Su and Fairbanks, Juneau and Ketchikan police and the Air National Guard Counter-Drug Support Program.
Tony Carroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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