Alaska police landed a notorious drug runner who brought methamphetamines into the secluded Alaskan community of Kechikan.
Fernando Benitez-Moreno, 49, a Mexican citizen, was charged with drug conspiracy and sentenced to 15 years of prison time and deportation back to Mexico. The Anchorage Daily News reported that he will serve the term before being deported, while the Alaska Dispatch states he will immediately be deported.
Police described Benitez-Moreno as a career criminal who returned to Alaska illegally after previous convictions. He trafficked drugs under the names David Sanchez, “Security,” “Uncle Cesar” and “Uncle Bob,” using female drug mules to carry meth, as well as his profits, on commercial flights.
Benitez-Moreno is credited with bringing meth into Alaska three years before prices shot up, beginning in 2007, due to a drop in prescription drug sales.
Benitez-Moreno visited Ketchikan, a popular landing point for cruise ships and state ferries, to follow through on his deals. He was charged with re-entering the U.S. after deportation in February 2011, and six months later pleaded guilty to meth conspiracy.
Several of Benitez-Moreno’s co-conspirators and drug runners have also been charged.
Alaska authorities continue to deal with an ongoing meth epidemic. Just last year they seized more than 35 pounds of the highly addictive substance— more than three times the amount seized in that previous two years combines. Juneau police reported that meth and heroine fetch a higher price in Alaska than in other, more populated areas.
In October, six people were busted for selling heroin and meth to an undercover agent in Unalaska. In November police intercepted a package intended for a man in Stika which contained $30,000 worth of both substances.
In Ketchikan alone, four unrelated arrests were made on Wednesday of a group of Oregon residents who were selling meth and heroin in the town.