On Thursday, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Feldis announced the federal court case against a Palmer man he says is responsible for operating a major drug ring in the Mat-Su Valley.

If convicted, 26-year-old Hiram Ducasse will spend at least 20 years behind bars.

Ducasse is the only defendant named in the three-count indictment. The first count charges Ducasse with conspiring with others to distribute heroin. The second and third counts both charge Ducasse with actually distributing heroin, including distribution which resulted in the death of someone who used the drug.

On November 30, Feldis alleges Ducasse sold half a gram of heroin to a 22-year-old Michael Chalender of Houston. The next day, he was found dead by a family member, according to Alaska State Troopers.

The overdose death led the way for the bust of a multi state drug operation involving at least six people. Investigators searched Ducasse’s home, where they found 35 grams of heroin. Feldis says no one should be allowed to profit from selling heroin or harming others.

“We’re going to prosecute this case and we’re going to prosecute any similar cases but we are not going to prosecute our way out of the problem,” said Feldis. “That’s going to take all of our help.”

Nationwide, a drug over dose kills someone every 12 minutes, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“Sadly, heroin use and distribution is on the rise throughout the country, and in Alaska, with often tragic consequences,” Feldis said. “This is one such tragic case.”

Captain Jeffrey Laughlin with the Alaska State Troopers says heroin can be found in every community in the state. He says addiction is a disease, and those who contribute to the illness will be held responsible.

“If we go into people’s homes where their family members have died because of heroin overdoses then we’re going to try to follow that to the source, because that’s where we need to stop it, said Laughlin. “We also need the public to stand up and say we’ve had enough.”

The others connected to the Mat-Su heroin bust are charged with drug trafficking and gun crimes. Feldis says, in this case, the heroin came to Alaska by way of California.

Ducasse will be arraigned in federal court in the coming days.