8 indicted, 2 at large in Anchorage drug ring
Anchorage prosecutors say two people remain at large in an eight-person indictment linked to a sweeping heroin and methamphetamine ring, in which investigators have seized significant quanties of drugs, cash and weaponry.
According to Anchorage District Attorney Rick Allen’s office, the suspects named in a Nov. 14 grand jury indictment include:
Courtney Renee Tweedy-Pederson
Galliher and England remain at large. Police spokeswoman Renee Oistad said in an email that Galliher "is known to change her hair color frequently."
Seizures in the case, which stemmed from December 2015 heroin purchases by an undercover APD officer, have been made from seven locations. They included over 200 grams of meth and 300 grams of heroin, 1.3 kilograms of marijuana and nearly $200,000 in cash. Hundreds of prescription pills including hydromorphone, oxycodone and Xanax were seized as well.
“Also seized was a pipe bomb which was safely disposed of by APD bomb disposal units and nearly a dozen firearms which were either reported stolen or determined to have been used in furtherance of drug distribution,” prosecutors wrote.
Allen praised the extensive work which went into developing the case, noting its nearly two-year run before charges were brought.
"This is a big deal for Anchorage: it's a lot of drugs, a lot of guns," Allen said. "We're very pleased about this case."
Melissa Knight, the alleged ringleader, faces up to 99 years in prison if convicted of first-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance.
That’s a charge the Anchorage DA’s office hasn’t prosecuted in eight to 10 years. It’s an unclassified felony, meaning it’s legally on par with murder and rape charges and carries a punishment range untouched by SB91, with up to 99 years in prison.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Bergt, who is prosecuting the case, said that’s because, “In this case for example, the continuing enterprise or criminal enterprise -- meaning that someone was engaged in distribution that they were doing it in concert with five or more persons, that they were actively managing, supervising, or otherwise organizing those five people or more, and deriving a substantial portion of their income from drug distribution -- typically those cases you'll see go towards federal prosecution."
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Bergt says that’s due to the manpower and resources involved in the investigation.
“Knight’s charges are based on recovered cell phone records and other information learned during the course of the investigation,” prosecutors wrote. “The charge alleges that Knight engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise by participating in drug distribution and managing five or more persons who were also engaged in drug distribution. The co-defendants also face numerous charges related to drugs and weapons.”
Bergt, who is prosecuting the case, credited APD's Community Action Policing Team and Vice unit with breaking the case through the undercover drug buys.
"Virtually every residence in this case that was searched by police had evidence of distribution, to include multiple dime baggies for distribution," Bergt said. "Some residences had three or four scales in different rooms."
Bergt said seven to 10 firearms were recovered during the investigation.
"The majority were pistols -- we did recover a shotgun," Bergt said. "They were a mixture of revolvers or semi-automatic handguns of various calibers."
Although Bergt declined to discuss the source of the drugs or the roles of the co-conspirators in detail, citing the ongoing investigation, he said everyone involved in the case is charged with "distribution-level" offenses.
To prove the existence of the continuing criminal enterprise which Melissa Knight allegedly headed, he said, prosecutors will have to show that she conducted a series of five or more controlled-substances offenses in conjunction with five or more defendants, obtaining "substantial income or resources" from them.
Galliher and England are wanted on arrest warrants; anyone with information on their whereabouts should contact police at 907-786-8900. Alternately, tips can be submitted anonymously to Anchorage Crime Stoppers at 907-561-STOP or through its website.
This is a developing story. Watch KTVA's evening newscasts Wednesday and check back for updates.