Members of violent Alaska drug ring convicted
Six people have been found guilty for charges related to a violent drug trafficking ring in Alaska. The United States Attorney’s Office, District of Alaska, announced the convictions at a press conference in Anchorage on Wednesday.
“I’ve seen a lot in Alaska, and I was a prosecutor in New York. This is among the most horrific violence that I’ve seen in connection with a drug trafficking organization,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Russo.
Prosecutors say the case came to light back in April 2013 through the hard work of a street cop in Valdez.
“He arrested somebody, he continued to investigate. He continued to get search warrants, ultimately getting a search warrant for a phone that troopers executed and they found this horrible rape video on it,” Russo said.
Prosecutors say the video showed 35-year-old Phosavan Khamnivong , 26-year-old Timothy Miller and 26-year-old Anoai Sialofi torturing two men at Miller’s apartment in Anchorage.
“In that video, the inhumanity that was recorded showed what lengths to which these drug dealers would go for one purpose — to collect a debt,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephan Collins.
Attorneys say 40-year-old Stuart Seugasala was the ringleader, and can be seen in the video raping the victims with a hot curling iron. Seugasala had previously served 10 years in a Seattle prison for drug charges. The three-hour long assault involved pistol whipping, cigarette burns, death threats and beatings.
“When those victims walked in to that apartment, they literally walked in through the gates of hell,” Collins said.
Investigators say the assailants previously plotted to ship more than five pounds of methamphetamine from California to Alaska in February 2013. After the U.S. Postal Service intercepted the delivery, prosecutors say the men were out of drugs and money, and began a series of home invasions, shootings and kidnappings to collect cash owed to them in other deals.
Police arrested Seugasala in June 2013. The Anchorage Police Department stopped Khamnivong in May 2013, and when they told him they were going to search his car, Khamnivong rammed his vehicle into two police cruisers and got away. U.S. Marshals found him hiding seven months later and took him into custody.
“In there they found a ‘go bag,’ a gun, drugs, money. They found an AR-15 with a double-stacked magazine, fully loaded,” Collins said.
After two trials in federal court, juries convicted six people on various charges. Seugasala and Khamnivong were convicted for drug conspiracy, kidnapping and weapons violations. Sentencings are set to take place in April and May.