ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The same month the Department of Justice announced the conclusion of major cases involving the flow of heroin and methamphetamine into the island community of Kodiak, Alaska, the U.S. Coast Guard there is in the midst a wide-ranging drug investigation of its own.
As of Friday, 31 service members connected to the station's cutters, air station and base, faced disciplinary actions, Public Affairs Specialist Lt. Cmdr. Ray Reichl told Channel 2.
Still, the investigation, which began last fall, isn't over.
Unlike the justice department busts, which netted dealers importing large quantities of meth and heroin into Kodiak from Washington State, Nevada, Arizona and California, the Coast Guard investigation centered on recreational use conducted during "liberty hours" or personal leave.
Service members were caught using marijuana, cocaine and prescription drugs in violation of Coast Guard policy, Reichl said. Twenty-two face disciplinary actions, while nine others face criminal charges for incidents such lying during the investigation, drug possession, or sharing drugs with others.
There is no indication Coast Guard members were involved in drug trafficking, he said.
The most serious charges could lead to military confinement and a possible felony record. All 31 individuals implicated will be kicked out, through a process known as separation.
Drug use has caused violence and theft in Kodiak, where
meth and heroin have caused significant problems. Federal prosecutors called the community "extremely lucrative" for the drug trade. They've also said the community of 6,000 experiences "exponential problems" from illicit drugs due to its small size and remote location.
The Coast Guard Investigation Service assisted in the Justice Department's multi-agency investigation into those large-scale traffickers. It also ran the separate investigation into its service members.
There is no crossover between the two investigations, Reichl said.