Press Releases

06/30/16 DPS PR# 16-031

Random Contact Leads to Federal Drug Charges

(KETCHIKAN, Alaska) – On June 22, 2016, the U.S. District Attorney’s Office indicted Jason Alto, 20 of Egegik, on federal drug charges based on an Alaska State Trooper drug case. A few weeks prior to the indictment, on May 30, 2016, two Alaska State Troopers contacted Alto when he arrived into Ketchikan from Bellingham, WA, on the ferry, M/V Kennecott.  Alto was ticketed to travel to Whittier.  The random contact quickly led to a massive drug seizure.

According to Investigator Larry Dur’an who is with the Alaska State Troopers’ Southeast Alaska Cities against Drugs (SEACAD) task force in Ketchikan, they had no prior knowledge that Alto was onboard the ferry. “I was training a new drug investigator who was to be stationed elsewhere in Southeast Alaska.  The reason we went to the ferry terminal that day was so that I could demonstrate how to conduct consensual contacts.”

After Alto disembarked the ferry, Investigator Dur’an started up a conversation with him. During the conversation Investigator Dur’an developed reasonable suspicion that Alto was smuggling controlled substances.  Investigator Dur’an, who is also a K-9 handler, used his partner of two years, K-9 Lutri, to sniff Alto’s luggage for any odors of controlled substances.  Following a positive indication on Alto’s luggage, Investigator Dur’an seized Alto’s luggage and applied for a search warrant to search the luggage.  Alto as allowed to reboard the ferry and continue traveling to Whittier.  A search warrant was obtained and 3.2 gross pounds of methamphetamine was discovered inside Alto’s luggage. 

“This was a very significant find for Southeast. The street value in Ketchikan for three pounds of meth is easily a million dollars,” said Investigator Dur’an. “In a larger city like Anchorage, where there is more product and the demand isn’t as hard to meet, the street value isn’t as much.”

The next stop for the M/V Kennecott was Juneau. Investigator Dur’an arranged to have Special Agents with the United States Coast Guard Investigative Services (CGIS) and officers with the Juneau Police Department meet the ferry as it docked. Alto was taken into custody without incident and remanded at Lemon Creek Correctional Center. Investigators ultimately turned the case over to the U.S. District Attorney’s office so federal charges could be pursued.

Alaska State Trooper K9 Lutri (Ketchikan, Alaska)

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06/30/16 DPS PR #16-030

AST and APD Ramp up Seward Highway Corridor Enforcement 4th of July Weekend

Alaska State Troopers and the Anchorage Police Department are partnering up to provide additional traffic enforcement along the Seward Highway Safety Corridor as a part of the annual high visibility enforcement “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign during the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Law Enforcement Officers from both agencies will be focusing on DUI enforcement, traffic violations and reckless drivers. The campaign starts right after midnight on Friday, July 1, 2016 and lasts through 6 am on Tuesday, July 5, 2016.

“We know thousands of motorists will be traveling through this area this weekend and we want to make sure everyone gets to their destination safely,” said APD Traffic Lt. Duanne Fujimoto. “By combining our resources, we’ll have a strong presence during this busy weekend and hopefully an accident-free holiday.”

APD and AST will be holding a joint media availability at the State Crime Lab in Anchorage today at 2 pm. Members of the media are encouraged to attend.

Where: 4805 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Anchorage
Date: Thursday July 30, 2016
Time: 2 PM

“By teaming up with APD, we are essentially making the Seward Highway as safe as possible on the traditionally busy weekend,” said Lieutenant Kat Shuey, of the Alaska State Troopers. “Having APD assist us with patrolling the Safety Corridor along the Turnagain Arm dramatically increases the law enforcement presence where we need it the most. We hope that the number of police cars on the highway will deter people from getting behind the wheel while impaired and also encourage everyone to keep safety as their top priority.”

Regardless of what your ultimate plans are for the holiday weekend, we encourage you to always practice safe driving behaviors when getting behind the wheel or handlebars. Troopers also encourage everyone to Report Every Dangerous Driver Immediately by calling 9-1-1.

Funding for the focused highway enforcement was provided in part by grant sources distributed through the Alaska Highway Safety Office.

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06/21/16 DPS PR #16-029

Sheep Poacher to Serve Jail Time

(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) – Last week Alaska Wildlife Troopers closed out an investigation into the illegal killing of three Dall Sheep from a drainage 20 miles back on the East Fork of Kings River. The case closed with a guilty plea to five counts from James Randall Wyatt, 58 of Palmer. Upon pleading guilty to Wanton Waste, two counts of taking a Sublegal Sheep, Illegal Possession and attempted Evidence Tampering, Wyatt was sentenced to pay a composite fine of $17,200 with another $35,000 suspended and to serve ten active days in jail with two and a half years suspended. The suspended jail time and fine may be imposed if Wyatt commits any jailable offense or fish and game offenses in the next five years. As a part of his sentencing, Wyatt also forfeited his rifle used and he may not apply for a hunting license for five years.

In late August of 2015, Alaska Wildlife Troopers were contacted by a man reporting he and a hunting partner witnessed another man, later identified as Wyatt, shoot two sheep. The witness later encountered Wyatt leaving the area without any animal. It was clear to the witness that the sheep had not been harvested. When Alaska Wildlife Troopers responded to the area they found one of the sheep fully intact buried beneath a rock pile. The second animal was found in the open. While the animal had been preyed upon by other wildlife, there were no signs that the sheep had any part of it salvaged by a hunter. Both sheep were sublegal.

In September of 2015, Fish and Game contacted Alaska Wildlife Troopers to inform them that a man was in its Palmer office getting a sheep sealed but the sheep was sublegal. The sheep was brought in by Wyatt. At the time, Wyatt told responding Wildlife Troopers that it was the only sheep he had ever shot.

“In the drainage where these sheep were poached there are typically only about one or two legal sized Dall Sheep every hunting season, and that is in a good year” said Captain Rex Leath, Commander of the Northern Detachment for the Alaska Wildlife Troopers. “There are not a lot of sheep up there. These illegal kills have essentially eliminated legal sheep out of the valley and nixed legal hunting for the next two to three years.”

Ultimately, the case went to the Office of Special Prosecutions and, after about a 10-month investigation, was closed out with a plea deal.

“This was one of the most egregious cases I have worked on in almost twenty years and it might never have happened if it weren’t for ethical hunters coming forward to help,” said Trooper John Cyr, an Alaska Wildlife Trooper that worked the case. “They not only reported the kills but provided valuable information which proved critical in identifying the person responsible. Poaching hurts animal populations as well as puts ethical hunters, who put in time and dedication to follow the hunting regulations, at a disadvantage.”

Wildlife violations can be reported anonymously through the Wildlife Safeguard website at Violations can also be directly reported at any Trooper Post.

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