ANCHORAGE - Twenty-five people were arrested Thursday in what federal officials are calling Alaska's biggest drug bust, a conspiracy that has resulted in indictments of 130 people in multiple states.
U.S. Attorney Tim Burgess said the two-year investigation netted more than 220 pounds of cocaine and $1.6 million in cash.
Burgess said the case was "exponentially bigger" than any other drug case prosecuted in Alaska. He could not recall what was next in line.
Federal prosecutors Thursday unsealed four indictments naming 44 defendants on charges that included conspiracy to distribute cocaine, possession of firearms in connection with narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and possession of counterfeit money. One person already was in custody.
Thirty-two others were arrested previously in California, New York, Missouri, Utah and Illinois, said federal Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent Zoran Yankovich.
Another 38 defendants have been charged in Kansas City with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, and 16 have been charged in Los Angeles on related drug-distribution charges, Burgess said.
Armed with search warrants, more than 100 law enforcement officers descended on 12 Anchorage homes to make arrests. Burgess said people were arrested both in New York and Anchorage, and 18 defendants remain at large.
The defendants moved cocaine from Mexican and South American cartels to Los Angeles and then Alaska, Yankovich said. Money flowed from Alaska to California and the Dominican Republic.
The way drugs and money was moved was limited only by imagination, Yankovich said.
In April, officers seized $30,000 hidden in Old Spice deodorant sticks from a passenger at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
Authorities seized almost 64 pounds of cocaine concealed in a vehicle near the Port of Seattle in May. They found 26 pounds in August 2001 carried by two couriers at California airports and 28 pounds carried by two couriers at the Salt Lake City airport in November 2001. All the carriers were destined for Anchorage.
Burgess said arrested drug dealers often are replaced by others but this case will take "a huge hit out of the drugs in Alaska."
He said authorities wanted to send a message of the consequences of selling drugs in Alaska.
"Many of the defendants face life imprisonment if convicted," Burgess said.
Indicted in Alaska were: Vicente Zapata, Jose Manuel Zapata, Manuel Zapata, Marcelo Zapata, Erix Manuel Zapata also known as Georgy Zapata, Constantino Zapata, Santiago Crucey also known as Roberto Deleon, Juan Crucey, Maximo Deleon Crucey, Agapito Crucey, Eladio Crucey, Luz Torres, Carlos Cruz, Juan Carlos Gomez, and Kirk Godfrey.
Also: Franklin Humm, Suheil Zorilla Garcia, Claribel Valoy Garcia, Martina Hernandez, Felicia Garcia, Candelario Peralata, Jorge Luis Mercado-Ortiz, Victor Rodriguez Jr., Norberto Agudelo, Celeste Johnson, Richard Rosa, Salma Rosa, Tomas Moquete III, Pedro Rosario, and Kemper Rudi Lara-Rosa.
Also: Santo Batista. Darrel Poindexter, Selvin Ramos, Jessabel Ramos, Milagros Mateo, Gregoria Mateo, Melido Antonio Infante-Christophers, Altagracia Esther Perdomo, Julio Reyes, Nayade Perez, Paino Manuel Alvarez-Perdomo, Edgar Contreras, Marco Bisono, and Ricardo Cruzagosto.