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Man gets 2 years after not showing up in court for drug case

Posted: Wednesday, November 17, 2004

A man charged with being part of Juneau's cocaine connection in 1997 was sentenced Monday to two years in prison after turning up in Florida earlier this year.

Braulio Martinez, now 47, posted bond to meet his $25,000 bail after his 1997 arrest, according to Juneau court records. By the time he was next scheduled to appear in court, that April 3, he had disappeared from the care of the friend in Anchorage who had promised to watch him, according to the prosecutor, Alaska Senior Attorney Richard Svobodny.

Martinez was returned to Alaska earlier this year after an arrest by Miami-Dade County police. Svobodny said he was arrested on a marijuana charge. Although Martinez was going by a different name, his fingerprints showed he was wanted for failing to appear in his drug case in Juneau.

The Southeast Alaska Narcotics Enforcement Team (SEANET) announced in February 1997 that Martinez was one of nine people arrested in Juneau and Anchorage in a cocaine sweep. Six were convicted. Charges for two were dismissed.

On Monday, Juneau Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks followed a plea agreement, imposing two years in prison for a guilty plea to the felony charge of failure to appear in court. He dismissed the drug charge - third-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance.

Martinez, a Dominican national, was assisted by a Spanish interpreter during the hearing.

In 1997, Alaska State Troopers Sgt. Dan Vander Weele said authorities believed Martinez was sending about a kilogram of cocaine each month into Juneau in one-gram packets. A kilogram is a little more than two pounds. Vander Weele said an informant tipped SEANET that cocaine was being delivered from New York to Anchorage to Juneau.

Svobodny and Vander Weele told the Empire in 1997 that Martinez was the most important defendant in the case.

Felony failure to appear carries a sentence of up to five years in Alaska. The dismissed drug charge carries up to 10 years.

Court records show Martinez agreed in July to plead guilty to the drug charge with a sentence of 15 months to serve, another 25 months suspended, three years' probation and dismissal of the other felony charge. He withdrew that plea.

Svobodny said not being convicted of the drug charge could allow Martinez to fight deportation to the Dominican Republic. Deportation would be automatic on a drug conviction, he said.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.



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