ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The assistant United States Attorney who prosecuted a drug trafficking case involving 13 defendants in Kodiak shared some details on the three-year investigation.
“There still is, and was, a significant drug problem in Kodiak over the last few years,” Assistant US Attorney Kelly Cavanaugh told Channel 2. “The population is about 6,000 people, and when you have drug crimes, it’s just a ripple effect throughout the community.”
The investigation started in summer 2016 after reports came in from Kodiak locals of ongoing drug activity, according to the Department of Justice.
Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies took up investigation into the drug trafficking activity, collecting evidence against defendants until ultimately prosecuting on a series of charges from money laundering to drug distribution.
Cavanaugh was the prosecutor on the case. He said the investigation involved close monitoring of suspicious packages imported into Kodiak through “common carriers” and also “transported by human couriers on airplanes.”
"There were some suspicious packages that were being sent to Kodiak that law enforcement got search warrants for,” Cavanaugh said. “There were things where they used confidential informants and undercover law enforcement agents to purchase illegal narcotics from different people.”
Investigators also uncovered a money laundering scheme, where the defendants paid for the drug supply through banks and money exchanges.
Cavanaugh said this established trafficking system in Kodiak perpetuates a criminal culture that is difficult to stop.
"There's more violence. There's more property crime,” he said. “In a concentrated and smaller community, and isolated place like Kodiak, those issues that come with a lot of drug use, and around drug sales, are really magnified."
Cavanaugh said, although drug trafficking persists in Kodiak, he believes this investigation and subsequent convictions will have a deterring effect on crime in the area.