Alaska is unique. Approximately 50 percent of our population resides in the Anchorage area. Much of Alaska's remaining population is isolated. This isolation and lack of a transportation infrastructure places a substantial burden on state and local law enforcement.
Crime in Alaska
Crime in Alaska is complex and organized in the areas of illicit drugs, fraud, corruption and violent crime. Federal law enforcement agencies work closely with state and local agencies in combating crime. This is a federal, state and local "team approach" with communication, coordination and cooperation to attack state-wide crime.
Federal conspiracy laws assist federal law enforcement in effectively addressing criminal organizations. A conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime or accomplish a legal purpose through illegal action. Alaska does not have state conspiracy laws. Virtually all other states do.
Local law enforcement is the first line of defense for crime involving drugs, guns and violence. The Alaska State Troopers and Anchorage Police Department, as well as state prosecutors, are severely restricted without state conspiracy laws. As the complexity of criminal organizations has increased, the burden placed upon state law enforcement has increased.
State prosecutors should have the basic "tools" to attack crime. It is a tremendous handicap not to have state conspiracy laws to address criminal organizations. The public should demand and have adequate protection.
New Threats in Anchorage
Anchorage over the past few years has become a base or transshipment point for complex criminal organizations. In the last eight months, the United States Attorney for Alaska has initiated prosecution of the following criminal organizations:
- Mexican Marijuana/Cocaine Conspiracy
The Anchorage area was the site of numerous, very high quality marijuana "indoor grows." The marijuana was exported to the Lower 48 in exchange for cocaine and cash. The U. S. Attorney's Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force led by the Drug Enforcement Administration and composed of federal, state and local law enforcement investigated and prosecuted the case. The conspiracy investigation involved the U. S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.
- Nigerian Heroin Conspiracy
Nigerian heroin traffickers established a smuggling conspiracy utilizing Anchorage International Airport as a transshipment point to the Lower 48. United States Customs has intercepted over 60 pounds of pure China-white heroin with a street value of $1 million per pound. The heroin conspiracy operated primarily in New York, Florida and Texas. The heroin originated in Thailand and was shipped to Anchorage via Japan and the Philippines. The conspiracy investigation involved the U. S. Attorney Offices in Texas, Hawaii, Washington, New York and Florida.
- Muslim Crips Crack-Cocaine Conspiracy
The Muslim Crips gang of Los Angeles has attempted to make inroads in the crack cocaine distribution in Anchorage. Recently Crips were arrested in Anchorage on drug and gun charges. The investigation involved the U. S. Attorney for the Central District of California.
State prosecutors cannot prosecute criminal organizations without conspiracy laws. Alaska's problem is complex due to the previous state "legalization" of marijuana. Alaska is looked upon as a haven for drug traffickers. In addition, individuals who conspire to manufacture, transport and distribute drugs look upon Alaska as a "permissive" environment since Alaska has no conspiracy laws. Virtually all other states have conspiracy laws.
Over the past 16 years, state and local law enforcement, as well as concerned citizen organizations, such as the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, have stressed the importance of the Alaska state Legislature enacting conspiracy laws to address criminal organizations. However, the Legislature has failed to act or the governor has not supported the conspiracy legislation.
The U. S. Attorney's Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies recognizes that Alaska laws are not adequate to address the criminal organizations in Alaska. This is especially true in the area of drugs, guns and violence. More cases are prosecuted federally due to inadequate state laws.
The Federal Court System in Alaska is not adequate to handle the drastically increasing criminal element in Alaska that thrives on drugs, guns, fraud and corruption. Alaska Attorney General Charlie Cole, as well as local district attorneys, support enacting adequate state conspiracy laws to address the criminal environment in Alaska.
The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce anticipates that Governor Walter Hickel and concerned legislators will again be addressing Alaska'a need for conspiracy laws. The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce urges all Alaska citizens to support the enactment of conspiracy laws necessary to address an increasing criminal element in Alaska.