Drug report tracks Alaska heroin, meth, cocaine
Alaska’s supply of illicit drugs is changing in type and flow as it reaches the Last Frontier, based on a new report from state authorities offering a glimpse into the drug trade.
A 35-page overview of drugs seized across the state last year, issued Wednesday by Alaska State Troopers’ Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit, says federal, state and local agencies interdicted more than 151 kilograms of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine last year.
Several images of seized drugs, as well as their typical methods of transport and sale, are also included throughout the report.
An overview of troopers’ drug seizures over the past five years shows cocaine seizures falling from a 2014 high of just under 15 kilograms to three kilograms in 2017. Heroin, which was at nearly 25 kilograms in 2013, fell to a low of about 3 kilograms in 2016 before rising to roughly 7.5 kilograms in 2017.
Seizures of meth, however, rose sharply from about 7 kilograms in 2016 to about 28 kilograms last year. There hasn’t been a corresponding rise, however, in the drug’s manufacture in Alaska.
“The number of methamphetamine labs encountered in recent years in Alaska is statistically null,” troopers wrote. “However, cheap methamphetamine manufactured in ‘super labs’ in Mexico continues to be imported into the state of Alaska.”
According to AST, cocaine is typically flown to Alaska on commercial flights or shipped in kilogram quantities. It can command $100 to $150 per gram in rural Alaska, or up to $1,000 a gram in particularly remote areas.
Alaska’s influx of heroin, which troopers say “continues to be a problematic conduit” on Alaska-bound flights, can also be sold for $800 to $1,000 per gram in remote areas.
“This is a significantly higher price than drugs command in other areas of Alaska and the continental U.S.,” troopers wrote. “Heroin use crosses socio-economic boundaries and tends to drive theft crime.”
The report also addresses the illegal transport of alcohol to areas of Alaska where it is banned, with seizures up from 378 gallons in 2016 to 598 gallons last year, as well as potentially deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl, the abuse of prescription drugs and the illegal transport of marijuana.
The nature of Alaska’s transportation links means dealers can send drugs into the state through transport hubs in Southcentral and Interior Alaska with relative ease, then sell them in areas off the road system for steep markups.
“The proceeds of illicit drug sales are often flown back to the source locations,” troopers wrote. “Traffickers continue to reap worthwhile profits while exploiting our diminished enforcement resources, especially in rural communities.”
One bright spot in the drug crisis has been the proliferation of anti-overdose kits, including drugs like Narcan which first responders can use to stop seizures being suffered by drug users.
“Over 20 lives have been saved by the Alaska’s law enforcement community utilizing rescue kits AST had distributed,” troopers wrote.
A request by law enforcement for Alaska to be federally designated as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area was granted earlier this year, significantly increasing federal funds available to fight drug crime.
Daniella Rivera contributed information to this story.
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