WPD’s 33-lb. Meth Bust
By Marc Donadieu
Glacier City Gazette
When M/V Kennicott arrived in Whittier on July 26, a passenger allegedly disembarked before the vessel was fully tied down, leading to a series of events that led to the discovery of 33 pounds of suspected methamphetamine by Whittier Police Department (WPD).
The next day, Eric James Hansen and Marshal Parke were charged by FBI Special Agent Wendy Terry with conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine in the United States District Court for the District of Alaska.
After Hansen left M/V Kennicott before it was fully secured, WPD received a call from Alaska Marine Highway reporting suspicious activity by a passenger.
“The suspicious activity was that a passenger disembarked from the ferry prior to it being completely tied up at the dock. That’s what drew attention to him. The police followed up on it,” said Interim Director of Public Safety Greg Russell.
After leaving the ferry, according to the criminal complaint, Hansen stepped into a silver/grey GMC Yukon being driven by Marshal Parke, who was with an unnamed female passenger in the back seat. A WPD officer located the vehicle near the tunnel and made contact, which further heightened his suspicions, said Russell. Initial information was gathered before the officer broke off contact.
“The officer went through the tunnel and did additional investigation,” Russell said. “Later the vehicle approached him again. He made a traffic stop. They were the same occupants in the same condition as before. He went to do some traffic enforcement and additional investigation that heightened his suspicion even more. He contacted the Anchorage drug interdiction team associated with the airport. They have a drug dog.”
The dog alerted officers to odors coming from inside the vehicle, Russell said. The officer’s on-scene investigation, including the scenting of the dog, resulted in a search warrant being requested and granted.
According to the criminal complaint, a backpack was opened and 33 pounds of suspected methamphetamine was found inside. Federal authorities took control of the investigation. In addition to the estimated $225,000 worth of methamphetamine, officers found $8,000 dollars in cash, a scale with drug residue, paraphernalia and a small bag of white powder, the complaint stated.
“This was really good, solid work on the part of the officer,” Russell said. “Rather than ignore his training and experience and just blow it off as dealing with someone who disembarked early, those indicators alerted him that something else was going on. He paid attention, and he investigated further.
“With good observation and investigation,” Russell continued, “following proper and legal police procedure, he was able to apply for and get a search warrant. Everything was done according to the legal process. Not only did he know what to do, what to look for and follow up on it, he did it the right way.”
As the interview concluded, Russell emphasized that a committed community effort was essential to maintaining a safe living environment.
Russell said, “Members of the community have a responsibility and the opportunity to partner with local, state and federal law enforcement to make their communities a safer, better, and consequently, a happier place to live. A partnership between the community, the police and the press make for a good relationship.”